Electric Car Sales Soar in 2022, led by Tesla and BYD in Australia

BYD Atto 3 parked on the street

Key Points

  • EV sales grew by 48% year-on-year in 2022
  • EVs comprised 3.1% of new car sales vs. 1.9% in 2021
  • Tesla leads sales followed by BYD, MG and Polestar

Electric car sales continue to break records, with more Australians buying electric cars than ever before.

Overall car sales were subdued, hampered by a continuation of supply chain issues and weaker economic conditions. Despite facing similar issues as the broader car industry, electric car sales bucked the trend – growing 48.4 per cent over 2022.

Electric car sales were buoyed by a combination of factors: a full year of EV incentives by state governments, the introduction of new, sought-after models, and anticipation fuelled by the pending introduction of the FBT exemption for electric cars.

Leading the sales charts in 2022 are the Tesla Model 3 sedan and new SUV models from the Tesla Model Y and BYD Atto 3.

Tesla Model 3 leads local EV sales

White Tesla Model 3 Performance charging with home wallbox

Tesla’s decision to pioneer electric cars over a decade ago continues to pay dividends. Nearly six out of every ten electric cars sold in 2022 were a Tesla. Tesla sold more cars (of any type) than Audi, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz.

Continuing on from its sales success in 2021, the Tesla Model 3 led EV sales in 2022 (10,877), followed by the related Model Y SUV (8717).

Tesla is dominating electric car sales charts in almost all markets where it is sold.

Why is this the case? Do people love Tesla that much more? While the American carmaker certainly has its fair share of passionate supporters, they are also beneficiaries of a decision to pioneer EV development.

By virtue of having a ten-year head start, Tesla has locked down the key foundations required for success: product, marketing, and supply chain.

While other manufacturers are being adversely impacted by supply chain constraints or only beginning to ramp up production, Tesla is hitting its stride just as global demand for electric cars is hitting an inflection point.

At the time of publication, Tesla estimates customers should only need to wait one to four months to take delivery of a new Model 3 or Model Y.

Tesla electric cars also offer strong performance figures, while being energy efficient and has exclusive access to the Supercharging network in Australia.

Blue BYD Atto 3 front

BYD Atto 3: The New Kid on the Block

Despite only opening sales in Australia in early 2022 and commencing deliveries in September, the BYD Atto 3 was the second best-selling EV in the month of December (1268) and third best in all of 2022 (2113).

BYD, like Tesla, are a vertically integrated auto manufacturer. Having a shored-up supply chain domestically in China has enabled BYD to ramp up production to meet demands, while almost every other EV maker struggles with supply chain issues, particularly when it comes to computer chips and batteries.

The proof is in the pudding with BYD topping 'new energy' vehicles sales (which includes PHEV and BEV) in China, selling 235,197 units in December and 1.86 million for all of 2022.

According to EVDirect CEO Luke Todd, they have secured to build 15,000 per year at BYD's Shenzhen factory for the Australian market. Despite initial deliveries of the Atto 3 hampered by compliance issues, sales are now ramping up as you can see from the chart above.

With the impending introduction of the BYD Dolphin and BYD Seal in the first half of 2023, BYD electric cars are expected to be a mainstay in 2023 and beyond.

The BYD Dolphin small EV hatchback will be targeted at the more 'affordable' segment, but will still offer good range and technology. Meanwhile, BYD Seal is expected to be BYD's 'hero' vehicle (for now) in Australia, competing with the Tesla Model 3 – but will likely undercut it in pricing and provide better range and performance.

Polestar 2

Other EV models

Among the other brands, the Model 3-rivalling Polestar 2 liftback registered 1524 units.

It was followed by the Chinese-born MG ZS EV small SUV, with 1119 units sold.

The Hyundai Kona Electric (1096), Volvo XC40 Recharge EV (983) and Hyundai Ioniq 5 (756) trailed behind.

Blue Cupra Born driving on track

How will 2023 look?

The new year looks to be another pivotal moment for electric vehicles with a record number of new models and new manufacturers expected to enter the Australian market.

Several electric hatchbacks are expected to debut this year with the MG 4, GWM Ora Funky Cat and the BYD Dolphin to be priced around the $40,000 mark.

From Europe, the Cupra Born and Fiat 500e will also become available, but are poised to be pricier at around $60,000.

Kia will soon launch the high performance Kia EV6 GT variant and while debuting the EV9 large family electric SUV.

Hyundai will soon launch the sporty Ioniq 6 sedan, Renault will launch the all-new Kangoo E-Tech commercial van and Megane E-Tech crossover, and Toyota is expected to sell its bZ4x electric SUV as Australia's most popular car brand.

EDIT: Tesla Model 3 December sales figure corrected from 1086 to 1806.

About the author

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Danny Thai

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Danny is a consultant and entrepreneur working at the cutting edge of the electric vehicle and energy transition. He is passionate about educating and helping consumers make better decisions through data. He is the founder of zecar and is currently the EV Innovation Manager at Endeavour Energy.

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