Electric Power
Source: OECD/IEA

Figures released by ev-volumes.com indicate that while recent sales are on the increase in both countries, Australia leads the way with a 132% increase in EV car sales for the first quarter of 2018  up on New Zealand’s 99%.

However, these figures are indicative of both PHEV and BEV sales in the first quarter of this year.

To get a better picture of trending sales, we should look to the Clean Energy Ministerial sales figures in their Global EV Outlook 2018 report.

Year on year from 2016 to 2017, New Zealand was ahead on Australia with a 231% increase compared to Australia’s 137% for PHEV and BEV sales combined.

New Electric Car Sales by Country
Source: EV Volumes

Looking at a comparison of purely battery electric sales, the figures are even stronger. New Zealanders bought a whopping 2,940 BEV cars in 2017 (253% growth YoY) compared to Australians, who only bought 1,210 BEVs (180% growth YoY).

New Electric BEV Sales by Country
Source: OECD/IEA

c PowerSource: OECD/IEAThat’s 242% more battery electric vehicles sold in New Zealand year on year from 2016 to 2017 than in Australia – and that doesn’t even take population into account.

According to the World Bank, Australia’s population is over 24 million. With New Zealand home to a comparatively measly 4.6 million, that’s over five times the population.

Add those figures into the mix and New Zealand are looking at somewhere in the vicinity of a 1,200% uptake of battery electric vehicles on that of Australia.

Frankly, it’s a huge disparity. So, what gives?

Australia’s lack of policy and incentives for EV adoption is well documented, and has been noted publicly by the Minister of the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.

New Zealand however has a clear framework and policy geared towards encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles.

For a start, as part of their Electric Vehicles Programme there are road user charge exemptions for drivers in New Zealand who drive electric light vehicles.

New Zealand also has an EV target – with the intent of doubling electric vehicles every year until the end of 2021 to reach a target of 64,000 EVs on New Zealand roads.

Led by progressive Jacinda Ardern, the NZ government also announced earlier this year $NZ3.74 million for a Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund as part of the programme.

In fact, there are a whole slew of initiatives under review to encourage EV adoption, according to New Zealand’s Wind Energy Association.

New Zealand EV programs
New Zealand EV programs. Source: Wind Energy Association

Economic conditions in New Zealand are also better than Australia, where 85% of energy produced is renewable..

The ready supply of renewable energy equates to about 30c per litre of petrol to power an electric vehicle in a country where petrol exceeds $2 a litre.

Also worth considering is the availability of EV chargers, as well as average commutes.

While Australia’s number of public chargers exceeds that of NZ fourfold (476 compared to NZ’s 104) – all of New Zealand’s chargers are fast chargers, compared Australia’s 40.

This in a country where the daily average commute is nearly halved (22km compared to Australia’s 38km a day according to consulting company LEK), and 95% of daily travel is for distances of less than 120km – well under the average range of most EV cars.

It has already been reported that Australians need to drive around 40,000km to reach cost parity with ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, four times as far as in countries with high uptake of EV cars, and that financial incentives will be an important step in increasing EV sales in Australia.

When will Australian policy makers catch on?

Bloomberg New Energy Finance says the tipping point is still at least 7 years away, and it will not be until financial incentives, a clear target for lowering emissions and increasing numbers of EVs on roads, and better charging infrastructure are addressed that we will be able to stand up and say we are on par with our neighbour across the Tasman.

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