Prepare to wait up to a year for a new Tesla Model 3 in Australia, as COVID-19 restrictions in China affect production of Tesla’s top-selling electric sedan.
The wait for a new Tesla Model 3 electric car is now one of the longest in Australia, with the latest estimates hitting one year – following COVID-19 lockdowns in China affecting Tesla’s Shanghai factory.
Nine months ago, Model 3 buyers in Australia could expect to wait as little as one week for their new car – but Tesla Australia’s website now lists wait times of between nine and 12 months, one of the longest of any new car on sale locally.
That means orders placed today are not due to arrive until February next year at the earliest – pending no further delays.
While still to be confirmed, the latest extension of wait times is likely a result of the latest COVID-19 outbreak in China, which forced Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory – where the Model 3 is built for Australia – to close for around three weeks from March 28.
Production resumed on April 19, however estimates suggest the shutdowns may have hit the brakes on building as many as 45,000 cars – across Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV models – based on the circa 56,000 cars the plant produced in Feburary.
The factory shutdowns extending wait times contrast rapidly-growing Tesla sales in Australia, with 4417 Model 3 sedans reported as sold in the first three months of this year – outselling the Mazda 3, Kia Sportage and many other top models.
The Model 3 is Tesla’s sole vehicle formally on sale in Australia, with the larger Model S sedan and Model X SUV still limited to pre-orders for the facelifted versions.
Pricing for the hotly-anticipated Model Y mid-size SUV – effectively the Model 3’s high-riding sibling – was leaked in recent weeks, however it’s not clear when orders will officially open to the public.
No changes have been made to Model 3 pricing or standard features since mid-March, with the range priced from $63,900 to $88,900 before on-road costs (and Luxury Car Tax).
When asked about the impact of the Shanghai production pause on Tesla sales, company CEO Elon Musk told media last week: “Well, we did lose a lot of important days of production. And because there are sort of upstream supplier challenges where a lot of suppliers also have lost many days of production.
“But Giga Shanghai [the factory[ is coming back with a vengeance. So, I think notwithstanding new issues that arise, I think we will see record output per week from Giga Shanghai this quarter [April to June], albeit we are missing a couple of weeks.
“That means, most likely, vehicle production in Q2 will be similar to Q1 [January to March], maybe slightly lower, but it’s also possible we may pull a rabbit out of the hat and be slightly higher … it seems likely that we’ll be able to produce over 1.5 million cars this year … that’s my best guess.”
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.