Electric vehicle manufacturers finally get serious about Australia | The Driven
Photo by Thandy Yung on Unsplash
Photo by Thandy Yung on Unsplash

Australians haven’t had a wide choice of electric cars compared to Europe, the US and Asia. Indeed, the common complaint from people interested in EVs is that they would like to buy one, but can’t find any – at least that they can afford.

But that’s set to change this year and into next, with a whole new raft of models arriving promising extensive range, low running costs and at long last some priced around the $50,000 mark. Hardly mass-market, but getting there.

Nissan is about to unveil, for the first time in Australia, the latest version of its top selling Nissan Leaf.

Hyundai is getting ready to unveil three versions of its Ioniq brand, and put them on the market. Marketing is gearing up for the full battery model, as well as a plug in hybrid and a conventional hybrid.

Tesla is assumed to be less than a year away from the first deliveries its Model 3 electric vehicle, which will likely have the “base-cost” version available in Australia, so reasonably close to $50,000.

Meanwhile, at the top end of the market, Jaguar is starting deliveries of its highly-rated i-Pace in the December quarter, and Audi and others promise to make versions of their first EVs available in Australia too.

The roll-out of the various models may finally put some meat to the bone that is the EV market in Australia, a country that – thanks to the lack of any federal initiative, not even emissions standards – lags far behind any other market in the western world.

That, hopefully, will be about to change, with a Senate inquiry led by independent Tim Storer due to deliver its findings later this year that could hopefully become a competition of ideas leading up to the next federal election.

There is no doubt that the new model EVs – even at around $50,000, are still a long way short of where EVs need to be to challenge petrol and diesel vehicles on up-front cost – considered to be the key metric and pivot point for the mass uptake of zero emission cars.

After all, if the upfront cost is the same – and the “fuel” cost is 10 times cheaper, then why wouldn’t people adopt EVs as their next car.

Still, so many people declare that their next car will be an electric one. They are just waiting to see what’s available, what it costs, and what is its range.

Here are the new EVs we will soon be able to buy and drive, as complied by TheDriven contributor Tony Bosworth.

Hyundai Ioniq

The Hyundai Ioniq doesn’t look too different from other cars in the South Korean maker’s brochure, and that’s a plus because the best-selling range has proved a hit with Aussies. The Ioniq will arrive here in the next two months in three versions – a Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid EV, and Electric.

The game-changer is the 28kWh lithium-ion battery powered pure electric version which produces a perfectly respectable 88kW of power and a really excellent 295Nm of torque – the pulling power of the engine. Range is a claimed 280km on one charge, more than enough for most daily drivers.

The other big news is the price.  While Hyundai haven’t yet released Australian prices, in the US the Ioniq EV sells for the equivalent of $A38,500. The smart money says it will be a bit more pricey here, but expect it to come in under $50,000, which would be impressive.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan launched the original all-electric Leaf in 2010 and globally it’s proved a top seller. But some pundits felt the slightly different looks conspired against higher sales. Well, that issue has been well and truly laid to bed with the new model.

Due here at the end of the year, the new Leaf has much more conventional looks than its predecessor but is packed with high tech. It offers semi-autonomous driver assistance, and a bigger battery pack with enhanced range.

The new Leaf can cover 400 kilometres on a charge, and accelerate  from 0-100km/h in a far from shabby 10 seconds.

Price-wise the Leaf should arrive here at around $50,000, plus on roads.

Hyundai Kona Electric

You could hardly accuse Hyundai of sitting around when it comes to electric cars – the Kona E arrives here late this year or just into 2019 and is an electric version of the already popular ICE SUV.

There are two Kona versions – one covers 300 kilometres, the other 470 and it is the latter which will come here first. Its 150kW and 395Nm engine takes the Kona from 0-100km/h in 7.4 seconds.

Interestingly, if you use normal AC power, the Kona Electric will fully charge in nine hours 40 minutes, but if you get a 100kW DC fast-charger fitted at home – or use a public supercharger – that drops to just under an hour. For most drivers, simply plugging the Kona in at night and letting it charge will do the job.

Equipment-wise, the Kona E features autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keep assist, and will still come to our roads at just under $50,000.

Tesla Model 3

It’s been talked about, salivated over, and we’ve waited a very long time for this one, but at last the Model 3 will be here soon, well, by next year for definite.

This is the make or break car for Tesla because the US company needs a mass-market mid-range car to pull in the dollars, and for drivers it could be the car that tips the scales and makes electric mainstream, so it’s crucial.

Priced at around $45,000 when it gets here – though most Tesla drivers do up-spec their cars at extra cost – the standard Model 3 claims a range of 355 kilometres and can get from 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds. The bigger powered version has a massive 500km range.

Jaguar I-Pace

Aimed firmly at luxury Tesla S and X territory, the totally electric Jaguar I-PACE arrives here in October with a $119,000 starting price tag.  Powered by two electric motors – one for each axle – this is a seriously sporty SUV that looks like a car and offers 294kW of power alongside a hefty 680Nm of torque.

Jaguar says the I-PACE will reach 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds, and the car can cover 480 kilometres off one charge of its sizeable 90kWh battery pack.

Audi e-tron

We’ve recently written about the e-tron’s launch but just to recap – it’s a range of all-electric vehicles covering station wagon, SUV and coupe styles.

The first models appear here in mid-2019 and will offer a range of around 400km thanks to a battery array of 36 connected modules that Audi says is the size of a double bed.

Sitting over the front axle is a 125kW motor, and over the back axle sits 140kW, making for 265kW of power with a punchy 561Nm of torque.

Inside and out, the similarity to the Audi Q8 is clearly visible – but with one difference: on request, the classic rear-view mirror can be replaced with ‘virtual mirrors’.

Reservations are now officially open in the US, with the “first edition” car to cost $US86,700 ($A120,000), and a “base” vehicle available from $US74,800 ($A103,000).


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