Tesla overcomes Australia’s electric car reluctance with surge in sales

There’s been a noticeable increase in the number of Teslas on the roads in Australia in recent months, a sign that one of the developed world’s most reluctant adopters of electric cars is finally shifting.

The supply-chain logjams that last year stretched wait times for a new Tesla out to nine months, and inflated the price of second-hand Model 3s to $130,000 seem to be over.

A new top-range Model 3 Performance ordered today in Sydney for $90,300 could arrive within a week, according to Tesla’s website. The same can be said for the US, the company’s home market.

The supply-chain logjams that last year stretched wait times for a new Tesla out to nine months seem to be over.Credit:Bloomberg

Some degree of sanity is also returning to Australia’s second-hand market. In August, lucky owners of barely used Model 3s could offload them to impatient buyers for between $130,000 and $138,000 — more than one-third above the price of a new one.

These days, there are dozens of second-hand Model 3s listed on Australia’s carsales.com. Some of them are just a year old and are actually selling — brace yourself — for less than the price of a new model. There’s not a single used Model 3 anywhere in Greater Sydney going for more than $100,000, according to the website.

Improving supply is helping to turn around a market that’s long been an electric-car laggard. The previous government villainised the power and range of EVs for political gain, with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison once claiming that EVs would “end the weekend” because they couldn’t tow a boat or trailer. The country’s relatively low adoption of EVs led carmakers to prioritise other nations for new models.

The Albanese government, which took over last year, has introduced tax exemptions on new EVs. The government is also examining fuel-efficiency standards that could banish the most-polluting vehicles from the roads and make more room for EVs.

“Supply is improving, though there are still some issues,” said Tony Weber, chief executive officer of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, a group that represents the local car industry. Fuel-efficiency standards will boost the volume and range of EVs sent here and increase demand, he said.

A year ago, as supply-chain snags from COVID-19 lockdowns in China held up car shipments, EVs accounted for less than 1 per cent of new-car sales in Australia. Last month, the figure was 6.8 per cent.

That’s way behind leading adopters like Norway, where four out of every five new cars sold are zero-emissions vehicles.

But the percentage of EVs in Australia appears to be headed only in one direction. Teslas, once a rarity on the roads, are now ubiquitous. The Model 3 is the country’s third-best selling car — electric or not — trailing only the traditional top-selling Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux pickups.


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