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Tesla Model 3 Top Seller in New Zealand as Country Aims to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2050

Very good numbers come from New Zealand, as Tesla Model 3 outsold Toyota mainstays such as Toyota´s Corolla, Hilux and RAV4 models in September. Electricity helped give New Zealand new-vehicle sales a boost, with a big bounceback from Covid-19 restrictions: it was the second biggest month on record for registrations, with electrified models making up a very nice 21 per cent of the 16,518 total.


"Electrification" includes hybrid vehicles of course, but a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV, or pure-electric) was also headline news: the Tesla Model 3 was the second biggest-selling vehicle of any type, behind the Ford Ranger but ahead of the Mitsubishi Outlander. The top-selling passenger EVs for the month were the Tesla Model 3 (1,066 units) followed by the MG ZS EV (122 units) and the Hyundai Kona (84 units), while of the 537 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles registered in September, Mitsubishi sold 282 examples of the Eclipse Cross, followed by the Mitsubishi Outlander (115 units) and the MG HS (47 units).

The Ardern Labor government has pledged for New Zealand to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and for more than half of the country's cars to be electric by 2035. In December it also declared a climate emergency on its territory. It also became the first country to force the financial sector to report on the environmental impact caused by its investments, following the approval of a law proposed by the executive, led by Jacinda Ardern.

Tesla 3

"We have an opportunity to pave the way for other countries to make climate impact disclosures mandatory. New Zealand is a world leader in this matter and the first country in the world to force the financial sector to report on it." assured the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw. The oceanic country will also oblige banks, insurers and investment managers to explain how they will manage the risks and opportunities linked to the effects on the environment.

"Financial services and markets play an important role in New Zealand's transition to a green, carbon neutral future," Commerce and Consumer Minister David Clark said in the same statement. The law assumes that some 200 entities in the country submit their reports as of the year 2023 and will affect all registered banks, credit unions and mortgage credit companies, as well as investment managers and insurers with total assets of more than 1,000 million New Zealand dollars (about 717 million US dollars, or 616 million euros).

Tesla Model 3

The new rules will also affect all issuers of shares and debt listed on the New Zealand stock market, the NZX, as well as public companies with more than NZ $1 billion. Ardern´s Labor government has pledged for New Zealand to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and for more than half of the country's cars to be electric by 2035.

Going back to the car sales, and according to the latest information from, " car sales have bounced back strongly following the country moving down alert levels, even with Auckland still in Alert Level 3, with the Motor Industry Association (MIA) reporting 16,518 new vehicle registrations in September, the second strongest month of any month since the "MIA" began keeping records. This number represents a huge jump of 51.5 per cent in sales compared to the same month last year when 10,902 new vehicles were registered. The MIA also reports that so far this year 123,016 new vehicles have been sold, compared to 87,474 to end of September 2020, an overall increase year to date of 40.6 per cent (35,542 units)."

Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 helped BEVs make a big impression overall, with 1,512 pure-electric vehicles sold, ahead of 1,456 hybrids and 537 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). Going back a little bit, the New Zealand Government launched an Electric Vehicle Program in May 2016, in order to encourage EV uptake. Electric vehicles in New Zealand are exempt from road user charges until at least 31 December 2021. As of December 2020, about 23,900 light-duty plug-in electric vehicles were registered.

The majority of the fleet consists of used imports from Japan and the UK, and the most popular model by far is the Nissan Leaf with 11,800 registered. In 2020 there were more EVs in New Zealand than Australia, despite Australia having five times the population of New Zealand. The government also plans to have an additional 60,000 electric vehicles on the roads by 2023, to have a total fleet of approximately 84,000 EVs by 2023; however, in 2019 New Zealand planned to have 64,000 electric vehicle in the country by the end of 2021, when it was projected that it would reach 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.