The affluent climate change-conscious voters who tipped former prime minister Tony Abbott out of federal parliament are now expected to vote with their wallets in support of the swing toward electric vehicles in Australia.
Environmentally aware white collar professionals are the obvious consumers of EV disruptor Tesla’s Model 3 sedan, which launches in Australia next month.
Not only is it finally getting here after three years of fanfare and hoopla, it has price parity against those cornerstone vehicles of the Malvern and Manly set, the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-class.
This is the first time an EV has launched in Australia with competitive pricing against orthodox petrol and diesel-powered opposition.
For instance, the Hyundai Kona electric is a $60,000 proposition up against similar-sized compact SUVs that are under $30,000.
The Model 3 pricing also makes the oh-so-fashionable Tesla more attainable than ever before. Previously, the cheapest model sold in Australia was a $147,204 version of the Model S luxury sedan.
The C-class and 3 Series have absolutely dominated prestige sedan buying habits for decades in Australia, traditionally representing in metal the young, upwardly thrusting executive’s self-image.
But the Model 3, with its pure electric, zero emissions drivetrain allied with Tesla’s hip image and boss Elon Musk’s antics and global profile, means it poses a real threat to the established prestige order.
Leading automotive industry consultant Matt Wiesner said, “Plenty of brands have tried to muscle in on BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s territory in this segment, but none have succeeded”.
“The Model 3 definitely has the potential to take sales off both. Being an EV it has stronger green credentials, it sacrifices nothing on price to them and nothing on performance,” Mr Wiesner told The New Daily.
“I expect it will carve out enough sales to really make BMW and Benz sit up and take notice.”
The Model 3 is coming to Australia in August in two models: the $66,000 Standard Range Plus and the $85,000 Performance (both before on-road costs).
The Standard has a 460km driving range according to the European WLTP standard, a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 225km/h.
The Performance claims a 560km range, 261km/h top speed and 0-100km/h claim of 3.4 seconds.
The cheapest C-class currently costs $63,700 and the cheapest 3 Series $67,900 plus on-road costs.
A cheaper $64,200 version of the new 3 Series arrives in September.
Mr Wiesner is intimately familiar with the difficulties of tackling the 3 Series and C-class in Australia.
He was in charge of British luxury brand Jaguar’s Australian arm when the XE sedan was launched as their direct rival in 2015. It failed to make mark on the two German giants.
Others such as Lexus, Audi, Alfa Romeo and Infiniti have also been unable to get on competitive terms with the two German heavyweights.
“We pitched the XE at the youthful end of the prestige sedan segment, but we could not get much cut-through against the Germans,” Mr Wiesner said.
“But if any brand can do it, it is Tesla with the Model 3.
“Those young environmentally conscious professionals don’t want to drive the same brand as their parents, they want to make their own statement and the Model 3 has the credentials to do it.
“These are people who saw climate change as a key issue in the last federal election and voted accordingly.”