Tesla Inc. and the electric-car industry generally thrive in the world’s richest nations. Not so in Australia, where even tractors outsell EVs two to one.

More than four decades after Mel Gibson’s supercharged Ford Falcon roared across the country in Mad Max, the car-loving nation is defying a global shift to electrification. Battery-powered vehicles made up just 0.7% of Australia’s new car sales in 2020, while in the U.K. and European Union, the figure soared to more than 10%.

The resistance is drawing the ire of global automakers, which are delaying or skipping vehicle releases in Australia to supply markets that offer EV subsidies and have more aggressive emissions targets. Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest automaker, likens Australia’s EV policies to those of a "third-world country.”