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Tesla Model 3 electric car outsold Subaru Forester, Toyota Kluger and Kia Seltos in Australia in 2021

The Model 3 is now sourced from Tesla’s Shanghai factory and supply was smooth in 2021.

A few years ago, the idea of Tesla becoming a top 20 brand in Australia would have been laughed at. 

But that’s exactly what happened in 2021. The Californian electric vehicle specialist ended the year with 12,094 sales, placing it in 19th position for overall new-vehicle sales in Australia.

Those figures are exclusively for the Model 3 sedan. As previously reported, no examples of the larger Model S sedan and Model X SUV made it to Australia last year because of delays at the manufacturing facility caused by a changeover to updated versions of those models. The Model Y SUV is yet to officially go on sale here until this year.

Tesla’s haul means that it sold more vehicles than established European brands including Lexus (9290), Skoda (9185) and Volvo (9028). 

The Model 3 was the 26th best-selling nameplate in Australia last year, outselling a number of popular models including the Subaru Forester and Outback, Isuzu MU-X, Toyota Kluger and Kia Seltos.

We reported in October that there was a chance the Model 3 could outsell the Toyota Camry, one of the longest running nameplates in Australia and a model that was regularly in the top 10 for years. However, the Camry found 13,081 homes last year (a 4.7% drop on 2020), meaning it outsold the Model 3 by 987 units.

Supply of the Model 3 was relatively smooth in 2021 after Tesla switched sourcing for Australian models from the Fremont, California plant to the Shanghai, China facility.

The MG ZS EV was the second best-selling electric car in Australia last year. The MG ZS EV was the second best-selling electric car in Australia last year.

The Tesla was up there as one of the best-selling Chinese cars in 2021, but was beaten by the MG ZS on 18,423 and MG3 light hatch on 13,774.

According to VFACTS, overall battery EV sales (minus Tesla) grew by 191 per cent in Australia last year, albeit off a low base. That means 5149 non-Tesla all electric models found homes in 2021. Factor the Tesla figure in and that increases to 17,243. 

The top 10 best-selling EVs are made up of models from both mainstream and premium brands.

Following the Model 3 in second place is the MG ZS EV on 1388 sales for the year. 

Coming in third was the hot-selling Porsche Taycan on 531 units. The four-door sedan was the most popular model in Porsche’s stable that isn’t an SUV. It outsold the 911, Panamera and the Boxster and Cayman twins. 

The Porsche Taycan found more homes than the iconic 911 sports car in Australia last year. The Porsche Taycan found more homes than the iconic 911 sports car in Australia last year.

Hyundai sold 505 examples of its Kona Electric to land in fourth place, while the Mercedes-Benz EQA small SUV and Nissan Leaf hatchback tied for fifth on 367 sales. 

Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric liftback nabbed seventh place (338), ahead of the Mercedes-Benz EQC in eighth (298).

Rounding out the top 10 were the Mini Electric hatch (291) in ninth and the fully electric version of the Kia Niro (217) in tenth.  

Just falling outside the top 10 were the Volvo XC40 Pure Electric (207), Hyundai Ioniq 5 (172) and Audi e-tron (108).

Note that while Tesla is a member of Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the peak body responsible for communicating monthly sales figures, it is Tesla’s global policy that it does not report sales figures. 

UPDATED: 01/02/2022

Note the original 2021 sales figures Tesla Australia provided to the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) were incorrect. This story has been updated with the correct data. 

The most popular electric cars of 2021

1Tesla Model 312,094
2MG ZS EV1388
3Porsche Taycan531
4Hyundai Kona Electric505
=5Mercedes-Benz EQA367
=5Nissan Leaf367
7Hyundai Ioniq Electric338
8Mercedes-Benz EQC298
9Mini Electric Hatch291
10Kia Niro EV217