Tesla Inc’s electric vehicle (EV) sales are recovering rapidly from a weak base in Australia and are expected to catch up with sales of its Powerwall home batteries in the country, Chairman Robyn Denholm said on Tuesday.
“We now have over 26,500 Teslas on Australian roads, and the momentum is there,” Denholm said at the Australian Clean Energy Summit in Sydney.
“I personally wouldn’t be surprised if we doubled that number by the end of the year,” she said.
Australia accounts for about 1% of Tesla EVs on the road, which totaled 2.5 million globally at the end of Q1 2022. EVs account for just 2% of new car sales in Australia.
“Australia is in a very unique position from an energy perspective, in that we have more Powerwalls installed in Australia than we have Teslas on the road,” Denholm said.
Home batteries are popular in Australia to accompany rooftop solar power, in a country that has the highest rooftop solar absorption per capita in the world.
The biggest barrier to faster adoption of electric vehicles is the lack of fast-charging stations, Denholm said.
To speed up the rollout of fast charging stations, transformers need to be added to the grid, a process she said was very slow in Australia compared to the rest of the region.
“These chargers need to be deployed without delay. This is the missing piece for mass adoption of electric vehicles,” Denholm said.
She urged the new Labor government to introduce fuel emission standards for vehicles to encourage uptake of electric vehicles and boost network upgrades, crucial for charging stations and storage utility-scale energy.
She also reiterated calls for Australia to do more to build capacity for refining battery materials. Tesla sources three-quarters of the lithium it needs for its batteries from Australia, but the country has virtually no refining capacity for the higher-value materials that go into the batteries.
“This whole industry has to move at a breakneck pace,” Denholm said.