Tesla overcomes Australia's EV hostility 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 A$130,000 ($87,000), seem to be over.
A new top-range Model 3 Performance ordered today in Sydney for A$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.
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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 A$130,000 and A$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 A$100,000, according to the website.
Improving supply is helping to turn around a market that’s long been an electric-car laggard. Australia’s previous government villainized the power and range of EVs for political gain — former Prime Minister Scott Morrison once claimed 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 prioritize other nations for new models.
Australia’s current Labor administration, 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 Australian car industry. Fuel-efficiency standards will boost the volume and range of EVs sent to Australia 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% of new-car sales in Australia. Last month, the figure was 6.8%.
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.