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Have we reached the tipping point for electric car sales in Australia? Tesla Model 3 success and sales jumps for Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf and more point to wider acceptance

The Model 3 is the clear standout when it comes to electric vehicle sales in Australia.

There‘s nothing like a dramatic spike in fuel prices to highlight the benefits of electric vehicles.

The past month has seen huge increases to petrol and diesel prices in Australia on the back of the war in Ukraine, and combined with lengthy wait times for some of Australia’s top-selling models, it has prompted more people to enquire about EVs.

Across the industry there has been a noted uptick in interest for EV articles and information.

If March new-vehicle sales are anything to go by, that interest is resulting in record sales for EVs in Australia.

One key part of the story is that US EV giant Tesla is finally reporting its sales figures to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

Up to now, Tesla has refused to reveal its sales figures in Australia and indeed in most markets around the world.

The figures from the first quarter of the year now include Tesla sales, and this has pumped up EV sales. While it is hard to compare year-on-year sales because there are no Tesla figures included in the 2021 results, the March results show an increase in electric car sales of more than 1000 per cent.

The electric version of the Ioniq is more popular than the PHEV or hybrid versions. The electric version of the Ioniq is more popular than the PHEV or hybrid versions.

Tesla sold 3097 Model 3s in Australia last month, enough to make it the fifth best-selling car overall. In fact, it was Australia’s best-selling passenger vehicle (as in, not an SUV or ute) in March, beating long-time favourites like the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, Kia Cerato and MG3.

Tesla’s volume is clearly well ahead of all of its EV counterparts – none of them will bother the top 10 best-sellers list for a while yet. But the vast majority of electric cars have seen sales spikes this year too, suggesting that Australia might be getting closer to the tipping for EV uptake.

Granted, volume is still very low compared with internal combustion engine cars, but the spike is good news for EV manufacturers and advocates.

The 6752 EVs sold from January to March this year represents just 2.6 per cent of the overall market, but that’s still an improvement.

If you add in all electrified vehicles, so plug-in hybrids (PHEV), series hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV), that percentage increases to 11 per cent of the overall market.

But in terms of individual EV model sales, there are some big spikes.

So far this year, Hyundai Ioniq hybrid, PHEV and EV sales have increased by 204 per cent. Given about 70 per cent of Ioniq sales are for the electric version, that’s an impressive number.

The Mercedes-Benz EQA is a popular pick among premium EV buyers. The Mercedes-Benz EQA is a popular pick among premium EV buyers.

Kia’s related Niro hybrid/PHEV/EV recorded 152 sales last month, and it is about to be replaced by a new-generation model. The freshly launched EV6 also chalked up 92 sales, while the Ioniq 5 found 57 homes.

Nissan had a big month for the Leaf which was up 100 per cent over March 2021 with 82 sales. The incoming Ariya electric SUV is expected to garner more interest given it features the brand’s latest EV tech.

We haven’t broken out sales for the popular MG ZS EV because stock has all but dried up ahead of the launch of the facelifted version in July. The MG was Australia’s second best-selling EV last year behind the Model 3.

EVs from premium brands have increased, proving that buyers with fat wallets are ready and willing to make the switch to electric.

Mercedes-Benz recorded 143 registrations for its EQA small SUV, but sales of the larger EQC went up by 307 per cent in March. Year-to-date the EQC has found 172 homes.

Audi e-tron sales grew by 36 per cent last month with 19 units sold, while BMW recorded 29 sales for its new iX SUV. The BMW i4 sedan also saw 40 sales in March.

When orders open for the updated Tesla Model S and Model X that will likely give EV sales a further boost. And with more EVs like the Tesla Model Y, Nissan Ariya, Cupra Born, Skoda Enyaq, Volkswagen ID.4, Toyota bZ4X, Subaru Solterra and plenty more coming in the next year, expect those sales numbers to keep rising.