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Tesla Model 3 nipping at Mazda 3, Toyota Camry's heels (update)

Seeing Model 3s everywhere? You're not alone. The Tesla outsold some staples as it drove EV uptake to new new highs.

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Tesla sales officially revealed: Model 3 drives top 20 finish in 2021
Tesla sales officially revealed: Model 3 drives top 20 finish in 2021
Mike Costello
Mike Costello
News Editor
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Tesla has finally caved in and decided to publish its Australian sales figures – by way of an agreement with the EV Council rather than the FCAI’s VFACTS database like other brands.


UPDATE, 01/02/2022 10:30am – The Australian Electric Vehicle Council has released an updated set of numbers for Tesla sales in 2021. Rather than the 15,054 Model 3s it originally claimed were sold, the EV Council says 12,094 were delivered for 2021.

“Due to a human error, the Tesla delivery figures for 2020 were erroneously added to the delivery figures for 2021 by Tesla before the figure was provided to the EVC,” an EV Council spokesperson said.

“So instead of 15,054 Tesla Model 3 deliveries in 2021, the figure reported should have been 12,094.

“Correcting the total Tesla deliveries (all models) reduces the total number of EVs delivered in 2021 from 24,078 to 20,665.”

The headline has been changed from “Tesla Model 3 outsells Mazda 3, Toyota Camry, claims brand” to “Tesla Model 3 nipping at Mazda 3, Toyota Camry’s heels”. The copy in the story has also been updated to reflect the correct numbers. CarExpert apologises for the error.


We knew it dominated the electric car charts thanks to sharp pricing (for an EV) that falls under various State rebate caps, plentiful supply with comparatively short wait times, the Supercharger network, and master promoter Elon Musk steering the ship.

The claimed sales figures include deliveries (meaning allocated cars in the country but not yet delivered to owners) and were provided by Tesla, rather than through collated State-based registration data which has been sourced and published elsewhere.

The supplied figure that we’re running here of 12,094 sales in 2021 puts the Shanghai-built Model 3 sedan in even rarer air than most local analysts, including this one, expected.

To say it was the dominant electric player is a colossal understatement. The next closest were the MG ZS (1388) and Porsche Taycan (531). The Model 3 accounted for a massive chunk of electric vehicle (EV) sales, meaning when people talk about EV uptake, they really mean Tesla uptake.

But it also ousted many of Australia’s top-selling cars on its run to 25th on the sales charts, and fourth among passenger cars – meaning, neither SUVs or utes.

Well-known cars the Model 3 came close to matching in 2021 included the Mitsubishi ASX (14,764), Hyundai Tucson (14,194), Mazda 3 (14,126) and Toyota Camry (13,081).

In other words, the Model 3 is not just a popular electric car. It’s simply not far off some of the most popular vehicles in Australia full stop.

MORE: Most popular non-Tesla EVs for 2021
MORE: Why a Tesla Model 3 is the best affordable electric car
MORE: Tesla’s ‘breakthrough’ year sees production and profits soar

The Tesla’s sales were more than three-times greater than the next best-selling luxury sedan, the BMW 3 Series on 3982.

Sales figures provided by Tesla to the Australian Electric Vehicle Council claim it sold 12,144 cars in Australia in 2021, placing it 19th on the sales charts behind Audi (16,003 deliveries) and LDV (15,188 deliveries), and well clear of Lexus, Skoda, Volvo, Jeep and Land Rover.

And the Model Y crossover – likely to be even more popular than the Model 3 based on wider market trends – doesn’t even go on sale here until this year…

“The penny has now well and truly dropped on how good electric vehicles are,” claims EV Council chief executive Behyad Jafari. No surprises there. However, he also continued to lobby for a more supportive federal government strategy to keep momentum up.

“Most people in the car market will now be considering an electric option. The role of government is to help them make the jump,” Mr Jafari contended.

“Governments that take the path of encouragement will capture myriad societal benefits – cleaner air, reduced respiratory illness, smaller carbon footprint, quieter roads. Those that lag will make themselves a dumping ground for old tech, dirty vehicles.

“It’s great that some state governments have received the global message, but at a national level we’re stuck in the past. We desperately need the federal government to introduce Australian EV rebates alongside fuel efficiency standards, just like other developed nations.

“If we get these changes, you’ll see sales figures really rocket ahead.

“As a wealthy, car-loving, early-adapting nation, Australia should be an electric vehicle leader. If we were we could restart a thriving manufacturing industry supporting thousands of quality jobs. But we need to build rapidly on this current momentum.

“After so many wasted years, Australia’s a long way back from the pack, but then again the cool thing about electric cars is how quickly they move from zero to a hundred.”

You’d expect the sales of EVs to further spike in 2022 from their higher base, as various State rebates and tax cuts start to take hold and as customer choices proliferate.

Just a few of the most anticipated EVs launching this year – most, like the cars already listed, will be subject to short supplies for the foreseeable – include (alphabetically):

  • BYD Yuan Plus
  • Cupra Born
  • Genesis GV60
  • Great Wall Motor Ora Cat
  • Kia EV6
  • Mercedes-Benz EQS
  • MG ZS EV update
  • Polestar 2
  • Tesla Model Y
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Volvo C40

MORE: Our full database of EV stories
MORE: Australia-wide EV policy needed to avoid ‘chaos’, says FCAI
MORE: NSW announces sweeping electric-vehicle stimulus package
MORE: Victoria commits to electric car subsidies, 2030 sales target
MORE: Victoria’s ‘worst EV policy in the world’ slammed

MORE: Northern Territory commits to electric car incentives
MORE: Australian industry keeps calling for new government CO2 targets
MORE: ACT moving public-servant fleet to EVs, will slash running costs
MORE: How Australia’s federal opposition proposes to slash EV prices

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello
Mike Costello is the News Editor at CarExpert.
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