Electric car sales soar in 2021, led by Tesla in Australia

Tesla Model 3 connected charging plug

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

While overall car sales achieved strong growth, benefiting from a slump in a pandemic riddled 2020, electric cars sales more than doubled in Australia.

Sales were buoyed by a combination of factors: the introduction of EV incentives by state governments, increasing availability of models and a societal push towards sustainable transport and energy.

Australia vs. the world

While the growth numbers appear strong, Australia is still very much a laggard in terms of overall uptake compared to other developed markets.

Tesla Model 3 dominates local EV sales

White Tesla Model 3 Performance charging with home wallbox

Tesla’s decision to pioneer electric cars over a decade ago is paying dividends. More than seven out of every ten electric cars sold in 2021 was a Tesla Model 3.

This is despite there being 19 other EV models available for sale. The Model 3 is the 14th best-selling car in the country and second best-selling sedan, falling 1,000 vehicles short of the venerable Toyota Camry (13,081) in 2021.

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

Even in China, which is arguably home to some of Tesla’s biggest threats for global dominance, the Model Y SUV and 3 sedan were the second and third best selling EVs respectively.

Why is this the case? Do people love Tesla that much more? While Tesla 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.

Other EV models

Blue MG ZS EV parked in underground carpark

Among the other brands, the MG ZS EV small SUV, the most affordable battery-electric model available for sale at $44,990 drive-away, was the second best-selling EV in the country (1388).

Off the back of surging electric car sales, MG has resurfaced in the last few years to now be the ninth best-selling manufacturer in Australia. Its decision to be an early mover in the electric car market bodes well for its future growth ambitions.

The Chinese automaker is set to introduce a facelifted version of the ZS EV in the second half of 2022, with a fresher design, possibly two larger battery pack options, and mobile app connectivity.

In contrast, the sporty Porsche Taycan coupe and wagons sat third on the EV sales podium (531).

Starting from $156,300 before on-road costs, the Taycan is Porsche's first foray into full-electric mobility. But it's proven successful. The Taycan outsold the iconic Porsche 911 rear-engined sports car (428), including at the global level in 2021.

Stationary dark blue GWM Ora Cat EV

How will 2022 look?

While there will be a raft of new EV models becoming available in 2022 from the likes of Polestar, Kia and Mercedes-Benz, many will be available in limited quantities.

Unfortunately for Australia, the tale of 2022 may look very similar to 2021: staggering growth rates, demand massively outweighing supply and Tesla dominating sales charts.

There is, however, one wildcard – the impending influx of Chinese-made electric cars. China is the major home of battery manufacturing, electronics and nearly everything that makes up an EV.

Chinese manufacturers like MG, Great Wall Motors (GWM) and LDV have continued to produce and sell at record levels and have not needed to shut down production like some manufacturers.

Next in the line for a Chinese automaker to debut locally (at least in higher volumes) will be Build Your Dreams (BYD).

Local distributor Nexport will be selling EVs from BYD in Australia via its EVDirect website, with mass deliveries expected from March 2022.

Model and supply availability has yet to be confirmed. Once we receive further information, we will provide updates. Sign up to our newsletter below to stay updated on this and future news on electric cars and clean energy.

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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