Australian Electric Vehicle Penetration Holding Around 8% For November

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Like many Australian electric vehicle owners and market watchers, I feel it has been a disappointing 2023. After the surge of November 2022 (with the introduction of the Model Y, the Atto 3, and the refurbished MG HS EV), the market has held steady all year at around 8% of all vehicles sold in Australia having a plug. There has been some increase in numbers as the automotive market as a whole has increased, but the expected surge driven by affordable EVs has not yet materialised. Compare with our October coverage here.

However, penetration is double what it was 12 months ago, with 8,646 full battery electric vehicles and 69 PHEVs sold in Australia in November 2023 (out of a total of 112,141 vehicles coming to market) — double what was sold in November 2022. Australian full electric vehicle (BEV) sales now equal those of HEVs. Take heart, there are now over 80,000 EVs on Australian roads.

“The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said the latest record-breaking month is an ‘extraordinary’ result in what is expected to become a record-breaking year for new-car sales, ahead of a ‘more challenging’ forecast for 2024.”

The top ten best selling BEVs in Australia in November 2023 were:

  1. Tesla Model Y (3,151) — year to date: 27,418
  2. MG4 (834) — year to date: 2,526
  3. Model 3 (788) — year to date: 16,506
  4. BYD Atto 3 (688) — year to date: 10,306
  5. BYD Dolphin (589) — year to date: 689
  6. Volvo XC40 Recharge (215) — year to date: 2,649
  7. Kia EV6 (212) — year to date: 1,579
  8. Polestar 2 (191) — year to date: 2,058
  9. Mercedes-Benz EQA (169) — year to date: 1,449
  10. MG ZS EV (134) — year to date: 2,683

The Tesla Model Y was number 4 in the overall November market after the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, and Isuzu D-Max.

Just as the BYD Dolphin and the MG4 are doing the heavy lifting, ORA sales seem to have stalled. Only 69 of the third model in the “affordable electric triumvirate” were sold in November, down a little from the 79 sold in October. Only 429 of the cute retro GWM city car have sold so far this year. Perhaps the ORA will reach its potential yet with the GT version, introduced recently. The recently introduced Kia EV 9 is off to a good start with 98 units sold in November.

Toyota (21,002), Mazda (8,707), and Ford (8,165) were the three top selling brands on the Australian market in November. Unfortunately, only Ford has an electric vehicle for sale in Australia, and the Mustang Mach-E is yet to be delivered in the new year. The Ford Ranger was the highest selling vehicle in Australia, with 6,301 units delivered. The Tesla Model Y made it to fourth position on the sales chart for vehicles, beating the LandCruiser Prado and the RAV4. On the year-to-date chart, the Tesla SUV sits at number 6.

Toyota still commands 17.5% of the market, but year to date, sales are down 9%. This is likely due to production and logistics challenges rather than a reflection of demand. I am told that Toyota is not concerned.

Driving around the “Ridges” in Brisbane, there is evidence of the ongoing rEVolution. It is great to see many EVs on the highways, not just Teslas but BYDs, MGs, and Volvos are getting common as well. The Polestar 2 and 3 are being advertised on mainstream television at prime time. The VW ID.4 is on billboards. People are already taking delivery of the BYD Seal and commenting on its excellent value for money on multiple Facebook groups.

BYD meetup on the Gold Coast — Tess becomes an honorary BYD. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

My friend and correspondent Nathan Merritt of Drive4U recently picked up workers from the Tesla depot at the docks. They told him that they are prepping 60 cars a day for delivery. Queensland’s Tesla Owners Club was recently treated to a preview of the Tesla Model 3 “Highland.” As long-term Tesla owners, they were impressed with the added comfort of the seats and the increased safety. Deliveries have already begun.

TOCA members get exclusive preview of Tesla 3 “Highland.” Photo courtesy of Paula Wadeson-White of TOCA.

One of my correspondents was not so impressed and feels that Tesla has wasted an opportunity to bring in more safety features with the refreshed Model 3. “Tesla has missed a chance to evolve the 3 by installing features like a 360 degree camera, run flat/self-sealing tyres and a Heads Up Display or at least offering them as options. Instead, they have concentrated on infotainment and gimmicks — like removing the stalks. Not good enough, Mr Musk! What about the older demographic?”

My neighbour’s son has replaced his grey Corolla with a BYD Dolphin. He took us for a drive just a few hours after he had picked it up. He was inspired by his mum who had just purchased a BYD Atto 3. Understandably, he couldn’t answer all my questions and told me he was still working things out, getting used to one-pedal driving, and learning the app. He bought the premium version for AU$46,000 with a range of 490 km, and yes, he will be getting the AU$6,000 government rebate. Another neighbour with a grey Corolla came along for the ride and was impressed — looks like another Corolla is headed for retirement.

Trent’s BYD Dolphin parked on my street. Neighbours are going electric. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Everyday there is news of new high-speed chargers being installed and government incentives to install even more. Private businesses are realising that it is an opportunity to attract customers and create an income stream. Hence the installation of a high-speed charger in Bundaberg — 5 hours north of Brisbane.

Charging in the regions — high-speed charger at Bundaberg hardware store. Charging at the hardware store, Bundaberg. Photo courtesy of John Baldwin.

As 2023 is drawing to a close, I am optimistic about the Australian electric vehicle market in 2024. The refreshed Model 3 will be arriving in large numbers. I have spoken to many Tesla owners who have ordered one. MG and BYD are ramping up their product offerings. BYD alone plans to bring in two new models in 2024 — a PHEV ute and a large SUV. They expect to sell 3,000 of each of their five models each month next year — that would mean BYD alone would have 15% of the Australian auto market! A lofty goal and I wish them well.

The level of FUD appears to have been reduced and charging stations are springing up everywhere. The future looks bright, and it is electric. Maybe they will even be able to unload the Teslas off the Glovis RORO stuck in quarantine!


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