Thought electric cars were expensive in Australia? A comparison of Tesla prices across the globe suggests we might not be getting such a bad deal.
It’s no secret electric cars are still expensive in Australia, with the country’s cheapest EV costing nearly 60 per cent more than its petrol-powered equivalent.
But compared to the rest of the world, are electric cars in Australia – in relative terms – affordable?
As data has shown, the adage that “cars are so expensive here” isn’t necessary valid – and aside from Luxury Car Tax, taxes on ‘cheaper’ electric vehicles in Australia are relatively tame.
To find out, we compared the price of two variants of a Tesla Model 3 – the base rear-wheel-drive model, and the flagship Performance – in 10 countries, with two figures for each: before and after taxes, on-road costs and incentives. GST/VAT is included in all figures where applicable, however.
The Model 3 was selected as nearly all standard features are shared across the globe – with the exception of the Model 3 RWD’s battery, which differs in chemistry (with a different electric motor) between cars built in the Chinese and US factories.
For an in-depth breakdown of the data, scroll down – or for the headline figures only, see the charts below.
Note: Australian drive-away prices calculated in New South Wales, while US on-the-road prices are drawn from California. Tesla’s “estimated fuel savings” figures are not counted in these prices.
Of the 10 markets studied – Australia, the US, UK, Germany, Norway, China, Singapore, Japan, Mexico and the UAE – the lowest list price was advertised in China (where the Model 3 is built), followed by Japan, EV-crazy Norway, and Australia.
That order remains once on-road costs, all taxes (excluding GST/VAT/consumption tax, which we’ve already included) and incentives are added, thanks to New South Wales’ $3000 main and $2385 stamp duty rebates that effectively strip away all on-road costs.
Buyers in Singapore are hit hard by the country’s taxation system, which despite low-emission and electric-car rebates that more than halve the payable tax, blow out the drive-away price by 40 per cent, to the equivalent of $AU115,000.
While buying a Model 3 RWD in the US costs around $AU2000 more than it does in Australia, that hasn’t always been the case, as a similar car could be had in the ‘States for under $US40,000 a year ago – or just over $AU55,500 before incentives.
Buyers in UK, Germany and other European nations (not Norway) continue to be hit with higher, $AU75,000-plus prices, due to a mix of high taxes, the unavoidable import costs and, in the UK, the fact that government incentives are only for EVs under £32,000 ($AU55,000).
Much of the above applies when switching to the flagship Model 3 Performance – but Australia’s controversial Luxury Car Tax means our cars slip from the fourth-most affordable (on the road), to the seventh, now behind Germany, the US and the UAE.
The circa-$5000 worth of government rebates available to Model 3 RWD buyers in NSW aren’t available on the Performance – though it’s the same in China, where the flagship misses out on a 11,088 yuan ($AU2300) incentive offered with the RWD.
By comparison, Germany’s €2500 ($AU3700) incentive remains available, pushing it into fourth – while Japan’s 650,000 yen ($AU6780) incentive compared to China’s nil sees it become the cheapest market on our list.
Comparing this pricing data to the average net income in each country (via the World Bank), a rear-drive Model 3 is most affordable in Norway, representing 74 per cent of the average income, followed by the US (86 per cent), Australia (109 per cent) and Japan (122 per cent).
However, the World Bank data isn’t a perfect fit for Tesla car prices; a Model 3 RWD costs 766 per cent of the average income in Mexico (or 1020 per cent for the Performance), or 504 per cent in China.
Using The Economist’s benchmark Big Mac Index price parity tool as an additional reference, the countries atop our ‘Cheap Tesla Index’ – China and Japan – are up to 42 per cent undervalued compared to the US dollar, while Australia sits at 22.4 per cent.