For the first time in recorded history, Chinese electric vehicle (EV) giant BYD sold more cars in Australia than US-based rival Tesla last month – though its lead may not be attributed to the popularity of its models.

    In January 2024, BYD sold 1310 cars in Australia, consisting of 589 Seal sedans, 465 Atto 3 SUVs, and 256 Dolphin hatchbacks – the latter of which is the cheapest EV currently on sale locally.

    In the same month, Tesla reported 723 examples of the Model 3 sedan and 384 Model Y SUVs as sold, for a total of 1107 sales – its lowest result since July 2022 when just four EVs were delivered to customers, owing to its then-quarterly update schedule.

    However, it is understood Tesla’s drop is not because buyers are turning away from its cars, rather the brand has been affected by two major issues preventing its EVs being delivered to customers.

    Australian deliveries of the facelifted Tesla Model 3 began in December 2023, however the electric sedan’s roll-out soon came to a halt after it was discovered the top-tether restraint anchorage for its rear-middle seat was not accessible.

    This resulted in a stop-sale for the Model 3 and a subsequent recall, with Australian deliveries only restarting last week.

    At the same time, a ship containing what is understood to be a large shipment of Tesla Model Ys – the best-selling vehicle among private buyers in 2023 – and some Model 3s was turned back to China after a plague of stink bugs were discovered onboard.

    The car-carrying ship, the Glovis Caravel, offloaded its shipment onto the Lapis Arrow which is now en route to Australia.

    The January sales chart result was also not a record for BYD, which has exceeded 1400 sales in four previous months – occurring three times with only the Atto 3 on sale. 

    Sales of EVs increased by just 0.8 per cent in January 2024 compared to the same month a year prior, with 4893 battery-powered cars reported as sold – however this is largely attributed to Tesla’s stalled start to the year.

    In 2023, Tesla 46,116 sales in Australia was enough to account for approximately 53 per cent of all EV sales locally from just two models.

    MonthTeslaBYD
    November 20221805845
    December 202222661268
    January 20233313267
    February 20233516770
    March 202335781061
    April 202336761118
    May 202344761448
    June 202370181532
    July 202339341912
    August 20233309803
    September 20235177702
    October 202319881012
    November 202339391257
    December 202321921463
    January 202411071310

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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