Tesla sales to double in Australia this year, says senior executive


With customer deliveries of the Tesla Model Y mid-size SUV about to start in Australia, the company says it is on track to double sales this year which, if true, would represent one of the biggest surges in the automotive industry.

Joshua Dowling


More than 50,000 Tesla electric cars could be on Australian roads by the end of this year – roughly double the current cumulative tally of 26,500 – a senior executive of the company has claimed.

To reach that goal, Tesla would need to more than double the number of vehicles it sells in Australia this year compared to last year – from 12,000 to more than 24,000 – which, if successful, would represent a remarkable and largely unheard of achievement.

Tesla Chair Robyn Denholm told the Australian Clean Energy Summit in Sydney this week: “We now have more than 26,500 Teslas on Australian roads, and the momentum is there. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if we double that number by the end of the year.”

The arrival of the Tesla Model Y mid-size SUV – which sells alongside the Tesla Model 3 mid-size sedan – is expected to deliver a significant surge in sales.

The first customer deliveries of the Tesla Model Y are due in the coming weeks and waiting times already stretch into next year.

Tesla initially reported it sold 15,000 new cars in Australia last year, but an investigation by Drive found the true figure was closer to 12,000. Tesla later admitted its original sales claim was wrong.

Nevertheless, Tesla is still by far the biggest seller of electric cars in Australia and last year outsold mainstream brands such as Isuzu, Lexus, Volvo and Jeep.

The Australian-born Tesla chief – who succeeded Tesla founder Elon Musk as the Tesla Chair in November 2018 – also revealed Australia accounts for just 1 per cent of the electric-car specialist’s sales globally.

However, this ratio is expected to increase as the popularity of electric cars grows, and as Tesla’s Chinese factory ramps up production for international markets such as Australia.


As previously reported, sales of all electric cars – including Tesla, which previously did not supply local figures – represented only 2 per cent of all new motor vehicle sales in Australia last year.

The other revelation: Tesla has sold more of its “Powerwall” electric-car chargers than it has sold vehicles in Australia.

“Australia is in a very unique position from an energy perspective, in that we have more Powerwalls installed in Australia than we do have Teslas on the road,” the Reuters news agency reported Denholm as saying.

Denholm also noted home batteries and roof-top solar power was popular in Australia, which has “the highest per-capita roof-top solar uptake globally,” Reuters reported.

The Tesla Chair also renewed calls for a more rapid roll-out of fast-charging stations.

“These chargers need to be rolled out without delay; this is the missing piece to mass (electric car) adoption,” Reuters quoted Denholm as saying.

The Tesla Chair said Australia’s vast natural resources put in a unique position to capitalise on supplying raw materials to battery producers.

“Tesla sources three-quarters of the lithium it needs for its batteries from Australia,” Reuters reported, “but the country hardly has any refining capacity for higher value material that goes into batteries.”

“This entire industry needs to scale (up) at sprinting pace,” Denholm told the conference.

Joshua Dowling

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.

Read more about Joshua Dowling LinkIcon