Canberra has been a safe seat for the federal Labor party since 1996, and now we’re also taking up electric vehicles faster than anywhere else in Australia. Could there be a connection?
Yes, according to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).
Using data from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Economics (BITRE), the AAA ranked Tesla Model 3 registrations across the country by Australia’s 51 federal electorates. The results suggest there’s a divide between what many left-leaning voters are choosing to drive compared with other Australians.
Two of the ACT’s federal electorates feature, with Canberra in 16th place with 359 Tesla Model 3 registrations as of 31 January 2022, and Fenner in 29th place with 241 registrations.
Canberra covers Civic, Kowen, Majura, and parts of Belconnen, Jerrabomberra, Molonglo Valley, Weston Creek and Woden Valley.
At the last federal election in 2022, 62.2 per cent of Canberra’s vote went to Labor’s Alicia Payne after preferences, followed by Tim Hollo from the Greens (37.8 per cent).
Fenner includes Gungahlin, Hall and part of Belconnen, and at the last election 65.7 per cent of all preferences went to Labor’s Andrew Leigh.
Both recorded swings to Labor and the Greens and away from the Liberal Party.
The electorate of Bean, however – which largely covers Tuggeranong – didn’t make it into the AAA’s top 30 list.
The top three federal electorates for Tesla Model 3 ownership included Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs with 604 registered, North Sydney with 581 and Brisbane’s inner north with 541.
All of these were lost by the Liberals at the last election, with the first two going to teal independents and Brisbane to the Greens.
The five electorates for the ACT Legislative Assembly elections revealed a similar trend.
Kurrajong covers the inner suburbs of Ainslie, Braddon, Kingston, Narrabundah, Reid and Turner – among others – and is represented by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, as well as ACT Labor’s Rachel Stephen-Smith, Shane Rattenbury and Rebecca Vassarotti from the ACT Greens, and Elizabeth Lee from the Canberra Liberals.
It took the local cake, with 237 models from across the Tesla range, as well as 418 other battery-powered EVs, registered as of January 2022.
Next up was Murrumbidgee, with 200 total Tesla registrations and 310 other EVs.
This electorate covers the central suburbs of Deakin and Yarralumla, as well as the districts of Molonglo Valley, Weston Creek, Woden Valley, Coree, Stromlo and parts of Tuggeranong.
Members include ACT Labor’s Chris Steel and Marisa Paterson, the Canberra Liberals’ Jeremy Hanson and Ed Cocks, and the Greens’ Emma Davidson.
Yerrabi was in third place with 189 Tesla registrations and 233 other EVs, and Ginninderra was next with 108 and 194, respectively. Each electorate is represented by two Labor candidates, two Liberals and one from the Greens.
Brindabella covers Tuggeranong and recorded the lowest number of registrations, with only 86 for Tesla and 128 for other EVs.
The data might be more than a year old now, but the ACT Branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) says it still holds true.
“There is a whole perception that EVs are only for your latte-sipping greenies,” Secretary Darryl Bourke says.
“EVs appear different, environmentally friendly – particularly the case for Teslas because the other brands tend to look more like traditional cars. Teal voters are a bit more game and not as conservative, yeah.”
However, Mr Bourke says other EV buyers have said they’ll “never buy a Tesla because of Elon Musk” and opted for other brands with less polarising leaders. He also says the ACT’s higher average education and disposable income levels have helped raise local sales figures.
This month, the ACT reached a milestone of more than 5000 registered EVs. Far and away the best seller is the Tesla Model 3, followed closely by its SUV stablemate, the Model Y.
The Model Y has also recently overtaken the Toyota RAV4 as the best-selling SUV – and the third best-selling car of any type – in Australia.
Internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles still have the vast lead, however.
In the first quarter of 2023, they made up more than 73 per cent of all new light vehicle sales in the ACT, with EVs just over 19 per cent. Over the same period, nationally, ICE vehicles made up more than 86 per cent of sales and EVs over 6 per cent.