The Toyota Camry is no longer Australia’s most popular mid-size sedan after a surge of electric vehicle (EV) purchases saw the Tesla Model 3 take top spot in 2022.

Latest data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries showed a tight race between the two brands in the mid-size category.

Tesla sold nearly 10,800 of its Model 3 last year to win the market segment that had been dominated by the Toyota Camry (9,500 sold in 2022) for 28 years.

Don’t feel too bad for Toyota, though – the Japanese car company had its third-largest sales in Australia selling just over 231,000 vehicles here last year, continuing its place as the highest selling brand in the country.

While it was a low bar to raise from the meagre 5,100 EVs sold in 2021, the data shows Australia’s growing interest in electric vehicles.

Over 33,400 new full battery electric vehicles were sold in Australia last year – a staggering 549 per cent increase on 2021 – although EVs still only accounted for three per cent of all new car purchases and the Toyota Hilux alone (64,300 sold in 2022) nearly doubled the total number of EVs sold.

Unsurprisingly, Tesla has the lion’s share of the local EV market accounting for 19,500 of new EVs.

Last week, the Elon Musk-led company suddenly dropped prices across its brand.

In Australia, the discounts ranged from $1,600 to over $3,000 for the Models 3 and Y – though in the US some luxury Tesla cars have dropped by as much as $30,000.

American price drops bring more of Tesla’s cars in line with the cost threshold for EVs to be eligible for a set of tax rebates aimed at incentivising the purchase of EVs that have been partially made in the US.

The decision to cut prices is aimed at shoring up demand and to compete against traditional car manufacturers who are finally following Tesla’s lead into the EV market, according to analyst Dan Ives.

“This is a clear shot across the bow at European automakers and US stalwarts (GM and Ford) that Tesla is not going to play nice in the sandbox with an EV price war now underway,” he told The Hill.

It’s a turbulent time for Elon Musk’s company which has seen its share price tank over the last year, dropping some 65 per cent in value and leading to Musk earning the unenviable achievement of being the first ever person to lose $287 billion (US$200 billion) off their net worth.

Late last year, the tech billionaire cashed out another $5.2 billion ($US3.6 billion) worth of Tesla shares, much to the chagrin of investors who are beginning to question whether the mercurial Musk is still the right person at the company’s helm, especially with his attention being divided by Twitter.

Musk put up Tesla shares as collateral for his Twitter purchase and has since grappled to get the social media company under his control, shifting his public image away from visionary techno-utopian and toward dilettantish culture warrior.

Musk is expected to step down as Twitter CEO following a poll he ran in December.