Electric car manufacturer Tesla begins Australian roll out

US-based electric car manufacturer Tesla has joined Nissan, Mitsubishi, Holden and BMW in the Australian market, prompting commentators to question if electric cars and charging stations could threaten Woolworths and Coles’ firm hold on the fuel retailing industry.

The first Australian Tesla customers received their vehicles and personal chargers at an event today. The company also plans to introduce public vehicle-charging infrastructure next year.

While electric cars are already sold in Australia, buzz has surrounded Tesla’s entry as its battery life is better suited to the Australian market, where drivers often travel long distances.

The Tesla Model S will take five hours to regain a full battery, providing 480km of travel on a single charge. In contrast, the Nissan Leaf only provides 135km after eight hours charge.

The Model S will set buyers back $117,000, although the company plans to introduce a smaller, cheaper alternative by the end of 2015.

If electric cars gain popularity in Australia, the implications for the fuel retailing industry could be huge.

IBISWorld expects the fuel retailing industry to grow 0.6% annually over the five years, reaching a value of $41.1 billion, but the introduction of new players offering cheaper, more energy-efficient transport alternatives could complicate the situation moving forward.

This is because the contracts between petrol companies and the supermarkets for fuel stations in Australia (totalling 47.9% of the country’s fuel stations) may limit the ability for fuel stations to host alternative energy sources.

No fuel station has announced plans to host electric car charging stations following Tesla’s entry into the market.