The Tesla Model S has been the freshest thing to come to Australian roads in many many years, being a fully electric car seemed a noble idea, being a luxury car made it special, coming with high performance and more space than you could imagine made it a compelling thing to consider. But just how well is it selling? Tesla doesn’t release its sales figures monthly as other manufacturers do – EFTM has dug around to uncover some indication of the marque’s performance in Australia.
I’m in a unique position in that my workplace is directly across the road from the Tesla dealership and headquarters in Artarmon Sydney. This is where vehicles are delivered to new customers and as of recently it’s the hub for all pre-delivery activity also.
I see cars in the delivery rooms on a daily basis – and while I’m not counting every one that drives out the door there are most certainly days when two are delivered and on average I’d think it’s at least five per week.
Because Tesla doesn’t subscribe to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry’s VFACTS New Vehicle sales data service, they don’t publish monthly sales figures. So there’s not been any indication of the company’s current progress in Australia.
The question is, what are we comparing it to?
Some say the Tesla Model S is a competitor to the Mercedes S Class.
Or the BMW 7 Series.
These two vehicles are well over the $100,000 price tag of the Tesla, in fact in many cases several multiples.
The Audi A7 Sportback feels to me like a closer competitor. Sleek design, performance and luxury at a price tag in the mid $100,000’s.
Likewise the Mercedes-Benz CLS four door coupe. Mid to high $100,000’s.
Whatever you do, it’s actually hard to be sure who’s buying a Tesla, or what they might have chosen to do with that money if they didn’t buy a Model S.
But, for the sake of comparison, let’s have a look at those four vehicles sales in 2015 so far (up to the end of March).
According to FCAI’s VFACTS – Mercedes have sold 53 S-Class, and 21 S-Class coupe’s. Just 19 7 Series BMW’s have been sold, while Audi has sold 20 A7’s. The Mercedes CLS is in the hands of 122 new owners.
Without sales data, the only way we can get a sense of the local sales of the Tesla Model S is to look at the number of vehicles on the road.
The NSW department of Roads and Maritime has a record of 119 Tesla’s registered in NSW. That’s the only hard and firm number we have to go on, but we can make some deductions from there and some other sources.
Firstly, it should be noted that the Model S is not the first Tesla in Australia. Around 20 of the Tesla roadster were brought into the country by Aussies. However looking at new vehicle registrations in 2014 and 2015 (including 2014 for the December registrations of Tesla Model S vehicles) there are 117 registrations.
We know there are two Model S’ sitting in South Australia owned by Simon Hackett and you can bet your bottom dollar there are others outside of NSW.
According to the Tesla owners forum online which has a spreadsheet of confirmed orders ( from those buyers who use the forum or have provided their order information), 50-60% of orders are outside of NSW. There are discussions among people who are counting deliveries based on the various number plates they are seeing around the streets which have recorded up to 60 more Model S vehicles on the roads of Victoria and Queensland combined.
If we take just some of that information and combine with the facts we have from the NSW RMS – we can assume that at least 170 Tesla Model S vehicles have been delivered in Australia.
Deliveries only commenced in mid-December 2014, while registrations based on the VIN numbers of the vehicles sold likely commenced in December for vehicles delivered into January. Deliveries ramped up to full capacity until well into January, so it’s likely that at least 120 of those are 2015 deliveries, putting the Tesla Model S in line with the Mercedes CLS, and well ahead of the A7, 7 Series and S-Class.
Compared to other Marques, Tesla’s 120 would put them on par with Infiniti and Maserati and ahead of Aston Martin, Bentley, Chery, Ferrari, Great Wall, Lamborghini, Proton, and Smart
And all that with zero marketing dollars spent, and just one Model on sale.
Things are going well for Tesla, if you try to order one today it’s not going to arrive until September or October this year.