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Tesla’s Plaid models a no-show for Australia

Aussie buyers left high and dry as Tesla drops RHD Model S sedan and Model X SUV

16 May 2023

WITHOUT elaborating and with little deference to good customer relations, Tesla has sent emails to deposit-paying customers of right-hand drive, updated Model S and Model X vehicles saying “Due to recent changes to the vehicle program, Model S (and Model X) will not be available in right-hand drive.”


Followed by “Unfortunately this means your order is unable to be fulfilled and will be cancelled. You will receive a full refund for any payments made. We understand that this may be disappointing news to receive and want to apologise for any inconvenience caused.” 


Countries affected include Australia, Britain, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Southern African nations and Thailand, among others. 


In an email flood, disappointed customers have been offered deposit refunds or $3000 in credits to buy a smaller and less powerful Model 3 sedan or Model Y SUV, as long as they do so before the end of October 2023.


Further Tesla customer communications say: “In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email containing important details on how to process the refund of any payments you have made. Once these details have been confirmed, we will be able to process your refund within 14 business days.” 


The notifications have not gone down well with hundreds of Aussie customers of the two most expensive Tesla models, as some have been waiting for a couple of years – particularly for the hyper-performance Plaid versions of both vehicles.


Speculation on social media forums suggests Tesla’s decision was motivated by recent hefty price cuts that the car-maker will have to absorb or that Tesla has merely deferred the production of said RHD models.

The latter was fanned by other Tesla communications that said production of RHD models will be stopped “for the foreseeable future”, which in past experience with Tesla-speak could mean anything. 


Model S and Model X buyers are now left with little choice as a replacement for their chosen vehicles. The notion, suggested by Tesla, that Model S and Model X buyers could still buy a left-hand drive model and drive it here is incorrect as neither qualifies as an historic or classic vehicle. 


But they could pay tens of thousands for a custom RHD conversion which could potentially be easier for battery electric vehicles than those with an internal combustion engine. 


Tesla will continue shipping LHD cars to Japan and the UK, which have local dispensations that allow them to be registered. 


Pricing for the Model S Long Range was $129,990 plus on-road costs, with the 1000 horsepower plus (745kW) Plaid version pitched at $186,990 + ORC.


The Model X Long Range was $149,990 plus ORC with the Model X Plaid, running the same powertrain as the Model S Plaid, pitched at $174,990 + ORC.


Potential replacements for disgruntled Tesla customers include a bunch of hybrids and the likes of fully electric: Porsche Taycan 4S priced from $197,200, Audi E-Tron GT Sportback from $180,200, Genesis G80 Electric from $145,000 and, as a potential Plaid replacement, the Mercedes-Benz EQE AMG 53 4Matic from $214,900 (all prices exclude on-road costs). 


Speculation that Tesla made the decision to stop RHD production of Model S and X vehicles long ago is fanned by the fact that the last examples of these vehicles delivered to Australia were pre-facelift versions at the end of 2020.

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