Sales of electric vehicles in Australia in 2018 reached an all time high – but remained at astonishing low level compared to almost every other developed world.
According to the V-facts data published by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), 1352 electric vehicles were registered in Australia in 2018 – not including Tesla, which may account for that amount again.
This represents a paltry 0.3 per cent of total sales, assuming a hefty Tesla number, and compares to sale figures in other countries which have topped 50 per cent in recent months in Norway and were more than 5 per cent in the US.
It’s an astonishing figure weighed up against many other countries across the globe where the transition to electric mobility is well under way.
According to internal data shared with The Driven last year, Tesla sold 1,410 Model S and Model X cars in 2017 – we have not at this time been able to confirm sales figures for Tesla in 2018 but if the EV maker at least matched its 2017 figures then its safe to say that there were somewhere in the vicinity of 2,700 EVs total sold last year.
With over 870,000 vehicles total sold in Australia for 2018, that equates to about 0.3 per cent of all cars sold, putting Australia well and truly at the other end of the EV market share spectrum to Norway, where there are now over 200,000 EVs, making up 8.3 per cent of the fleet.
According to V-facts, the total electric vehicles sold in Australia since 2011 is barely 6,000 – including PHEVs and of course excluding Tesla (which as we have seen leaves a significant gap between V-facts data and actual numbers).
The data from V-facts includes a breakdown of electric vehicles sold, including light commercial (LCV), passenger cars with SUVs recorded separately starting from 2014 when the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV entered the market.
Taking light commercial vehicles out of the equation, a total of 245 passenger EVs and 195 SUVs were bought privately whereas non-private (government or company) buyers accounted for 401 passenger EVs and 495 all-electric SUVs.
Compared to the USA where over 1 million sold in 2018, it’s a stark contrast – and taken in context of recommendation from the Senate report on electric vehicles as chaired by Senator Tim Storer and issued at the end of January 2019, it’s sorely lacking.
While the Senate report did not eventuate in clear targets for Australia’s EV market, Storer’s wish for a 25% target in EV sales by 2025 would mean over 200,000 EVs sold per year based on 2018 sales numbers – a far cry from a measly 2,700 or so.
“With the right leadership, Australia has an opportunity to capitalise on the global EV transformation. That would result in benefits to the economy, our environment, and public health,” Storer wrote in the report.
Of course, for electric vehicle uptake to take hold in Australia, there needs to be more done towards developing a comprehensive charging infrastructure and of course, more affordable electric vehicle models available that suit the Australian mindset.
Last week’s recommendations issued by Infrastructure Australia to consider a national EV charging network a high priority has been met with approval from the FCAI.
“Electric vehicles are a key component in the way of the future, so it is very pleasing to see further acknowledgement and real-world planning from Australian regulators on this technology,” Tony Weber, CEO of the FCAI said in a statement.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.