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The Tesla Model Y has achieved the unthinkable in March, outselling the Toyota HiLux ute to land as Australia's best-performing electric vehicle.

It was a record month for new-car sales across Australia, with the 109,647 vehicles delivered the best March result on record. It also caps a record quarter, with 304,452 sales across the first three months of 2023.

And all of it comes as the industry's peak body continues to rally against the proposed New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive Tony Weber again using the sales results to say that "all car brands are well aware that these results cannot be taken for granted. We need to factor in the ongoing cost of living pressures and the challenges for industry and consumers that will emerge with the introduction of the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard in less than nine months.”

It follows Weber's warning that "sales of battery electric vehicles appear to have plateaued" in February – comments that were quickly followed by EV brands Tesla and Polestar departing the industry body.

Now Tesla is having the last laugh, at least in March, with the Model Y finishing the month in third place, with 4379 sales, putting it ahead of the HiLux, with 3995 sales. Spots one and two were occupied by the Ford Ranger (5661 sales) and the Toyota RAV4 (5070 sales), while the Mitsubishi Outlander rounded out the top five with 2764 sales.

The result also throws Mr Weber's claims that EV sales have plateaued into some question, too, with electric vehicles sales up 58.3 per cent for the month, and 46.4 per cent year to date.

The Ford Ranger came in first place with 5661 sales. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
The Ford Ranger came in first place with 5661 sales. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

According to today's release: "battery electric vehicles made up 9.5 per cent of new vehicle sales, up from 6.8 per cent in March 2023. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid sales increased compared with March 2023 recording a 14 per cent share compared with six per cent in 2023. Sales of electrified vehicles in March made up 23.5 per cent of the total market demonstrating the continuing evolution of technology and increasing consumer preference in response to the challenges of decarbonisation."

In the battle of the brands, it's Toyota on top, with 18,961 sales, followed by Ford (8776 sales), Mazda (8246 sales), Mitsubishi (7866 sales) and Kia (7070 sales).

Rounding out the top 10 were Tesla (6017 sales), Hyundai (5985 sales), Nissan (4976 sales), Isuzu (4351 sales) and MG (3949 sales).

Most popular brands March 2024

RankingBrandSalesVariance %
9Isuzu Ute4351-4.0

Most popular models March 2024

RankingModelSalesVariance %
1Ford Ranger5661+25.6
2Toyota RAV45070+185.2
3Tesla Model Y4379+126.0
4Toyota HiLux3995-12.8
5Mitsubishi Outlander2764+27.4
6Isuzu D-Max2465-11.6
7Ford Everest2264+129.8
8Nissan X-Trail2161+124.4
9Mazda CX-52134+11.3
10Kia Sportage2114+148.4
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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