Electric vehicles just 3.39% of new Australian car sales despite sharp increase, report says

EV Council figures show uptake lags behind other countries with carmakers opting to send stock to faster-growing markets

New electric vehicle sales within Australia have increased by 65% in 2022 but uptake still lags far behind other countries.

Electric cars now represent 3.39% of all new car sales in Australia according to the latest State of Electric Vehicles report by the Electric Vehicle Council, but the figures pale against those in other nations such as the UK, where one in five new cars are electric.

The highest number of sales occurred in the ACT where 9.5% of all new cars sold were electric.

New South Wales was the next highest with EVs making up 3.7% of all sales, followed by Queensland at 3.4%.

Dr Jake Whitehead, head of policy at the EV Council, said the results were positive but carmakers were still not prioritising Australia when it came to choosing where to send their new EVs.

“We’ve seen instances where a new EV option has come on to the market and it’s literally been sold out in a number of minutes because there’s a small number of vehicles the Australian arm of the manufacturer has actually been able to secure,” Whitehead said.

Australia was still coming off second-best when carmakers chose where to send a portion of their global production because it lacked fuel efficiency standards or clear plans to phase out sales of petrol engines.

Sending more electric cars to Australia at the moment means diverting them from larger, faster-growing markets with clear rules and incentives.

On infrastructure, the report found that charging stations numbered 2,147 Australia-wide as of June 2022. This was a 15% increase compared to early 2021 and nearly double the number in operation in August 2020.

However, the report also found the focus on building charging infrastructure meant there had not been as much focus on maintenance, and global supply chain issues had made the parts needed to fix them more costly to source.

Whitehead said the EV Council had raised the issue with the government.

The figures also reveal the most popular electric vehicles sold in Australia.

Australians can now choose between 45 different electric vehicles, but UK buyers can choose between 140 battery electric vehicle variants and 40 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The Tesla Model 3 was Australia’s most popular EV model, selling 8,647 units, while the Tesla Model Y was the second-best seller at 5,376. These were closely followed by the MG HS PHEV with 1,185 sales, the Lexus NX450H PHEV with 1,177 sales and the Hyundai Kona EV with 897 sales.

Among the top 15 most popular models in Australia, 12 were battery electric vehicles and three were plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), cars that can be both plugged in and run on petrol.

The shift to electric poses a challenge for Toyota, the manufacturer of Australia’s most popular vehicle, the Hilux.

At a recent media event for the launch of the Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid SUV in Sydney, Sean Hanley, vice-president of sales and marketing at Toyota Australia, expressed frustration over claims Toyota had slowed the transition to electric, citing the company’s early embrace of hybrids.

“We are in full support of some mandated type of legislation around [emissions reductions]. The one thing everybody agrees with … is we have to get to a carbon-neutral position,” Hanley said.

“Toyota is not arguing the toss on that. That’s not a debate. Even with the most extreme viewpoint, we agree you’ve got to get to carbon neutral.

“What we’re disagreeing on is … how and when you get there.”

Hanley argued Toyota has not received credit for helping to reduce emissions with the introduction of its hybrid vehicles and stressed the company is “not stopping, lagging or preventing [electric cars]”.


Royce Kurmelovs

The GuardianTramp

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