VFACTS April 2023: Electric cars now outsell hybrids in Australia

Electric cars now outsell hybrid vehicles in Australia, although both electrified options face unprecedented demand.

Electric-vehicle sales hit a new peak in Australia last month, achieving the biggest slice of the new-car market to date – and leading petrol-electric hybrids locally so far this year.

Official data shows electric vehicles accounted for 8 per cent of all new motor vehicle sales – or 6530 of the total tally of 82,137 in April 2023.

Although April 2023 represents the second-best result for electric-car sales in Australia, the proportion of electric vehicles versus the rest of the market was higher last month than when the record of 7247 was set in September 2022 (when the category represented 7.8 per cent of the total mix).

By comparison, petrol-electric hybrid vehicles accounted for 6.8 per cent of the market – or 5592 of the total tally of 82,137 – in April 2023.

Electric vehicles have also outsold petrol-electric hybrids for three of the first four months of 2023 – with a year-to-date tally of 23,926 versus 21,693.

The first time electric cars outsold hybrids in a given month was in September 2022, but now the category has notched up three wins in a row (February, March and April) after a slump in the delivery of hybrid cars due to production slowdowns and shipping bottlenecks.

Nevertheless, the upward trajectory of electric cars means battery-powered vehicles accounted for 6.8 per cent of the total new-car market in the first four months of this year – 23,926 from a total tally of 351,139.

Last calendar year, electric cars accounted for just 3.1 per cent of the total new-car market, when 33,410 were reported as sold.

But the popularity of electric cars is growing. Over the past 12 months to the end of April 2023, almost 50,000 electric vehicles (49,718) have been put on Australian roads.

While electric cars sales have surged – up 200 per cent so far this year – in part due to the arrival of large shipments of Tesla vehicles, petrol-electric hybrid deliveries have been dented by production interruptions (down 19 per cent year-to-date).

As reported here, the Toyota RAV4 was the third best-selling vehicle outright ahead of the fourth-placed Tesla Model Y electric SUV in April 2023.

The petrol-electric Toyota RAV4 and solely-electric Tesla Model Y were the top-selling passenger vehicles last month, behind the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux utes.

Buoyed by strong deliveries of the Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3, the electric-car specialist finished seventh on the new-car sales charts in April 2023 – and the brand now ranks eighth overall year-to-date. 

The Tesla Model 3 continued to blitz sales of the Toyota Camry – Australia’s top-selling mid-size sedan for 28 years in a row until it was overtaken by the electric car last year.

The Tesla Model 3 is well on the way to dominating the mid-size sedan segment – whether powered by petrol, hybrid technology or electricity – after reporting 8819 deliveries so far this year compared to the Toyota Camry’s year-to-date tally of 1886 vehicles.

Toyota Australia says it plans to make up for lost ground in the second half of this year after ramping up production from this month.

Meanwhile, demand for plug-in hybrid cars continues to be much weaker than for hybrid or electric cars in Australia.

Sales of plug-in hybrids hit reverse in April 2023 (down 13.4 per cent compared to the same month last year, to 545 reported as sold).

Year-to-date only 2006 plug-in hybrid vehicles have driven off showroom floors.

Top three electric cars in Australia in April 2023

  • Tesla Model Y: 2095 sales (32.1 per cent of electric vehicle market)
  • Tesla Model 3: 1581 sales (24.2 per cent of electric vehicle market)
  • BYD Atto 3: 1118 sales (17.1 per cent of electric vehicle market)

The above vehicles account for 73.4 per cent of all electric-car sales in April 2023.

Tesla alone accounts for 58.9 per cent of the electric-car market (14,083 Tesla sales versus 23,926 for the total electric-car market) in Australia in the first four months of 2023.

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

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Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for more than 10 years.

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