Source: Hyundai
The all-electric Hyundai Ioniq. Source: Hyundai

The number of Australians considering a hybrid vehicle for their next new vehicle is on the increase, as buying intentions for petrol and diesel cars, and even in still expensive pure battery cars, falls.

New data from market analyst firm Roy Morgan indicates that not only is the number of people intending to a new vehicle in the next 12 months dropping, reflecting the sharp slump in sales in recent months, there is a also distinct shift in purchasing intention towards hybrid.

The figures build on data released by Roy Morgan only two months ago, which compared purchasing intention against actual sales data, revealing that interest in pure battery electric vehicles (BEV) was on the increase.

“Over recent years there has been considerable growth in the new vehicle market but this is now showing a potential decline and is facing a number of real challenges,” Roy Morgan’s Norman Morris said in a statement.

“There is currently some concern about the slowing economy, lack of wage growth, energy price escalation and declining home values.

“In addition to these potential economic constraints on new vehicle demand, the rapidly changing technologies with the resultant fuel choice decisions adds to the complexity of decision making in this market.”

The new data – which also shows that interest in BEVs has dropped by half a point YoY from March 2018 – suggests that Australian drivers may be hedging their bets by turning to plug-in and non plug-in petrol-electric drivetrains.

The reasons for this would be the extra choice and lower ticket price compared to the handful of battery electric vehicles currently available here.

Source: Roy Morgan
Source: Roy Morgan

Recent sales data shared by Toyota with The Driven indicated that in less than a month since its arrival to market, the RAV4 hybrid has outstripped its petrol counterpart in sales two to one.

What will be most telling is how the data compares in another twelve months time, since this month’s federal election and the relentless – and wildly incorrect – campaign against electric vehicles by the Coalition sought to sway people’s opinions about electric-powered vehicles to the negative.

As Morris notes, a change in attitude towards car ownership may also be in the offing, with young drivers less likely to lean towards buying private vehicles, instead choosing other transport options such as ride-share and car-pooling.

We are now also seeing the  early stages of major trends in this market identified in the 2017 Roy Morgan ‘State of the Nation-Spotlight on Automotive & Urban Mobility Report’.

“This report predicted that the new vehicle market was also likely to face major market disruption with trends away from personally owned and driven cars, shared driving or pooling, driverless cars, shared driverless cars and the rapid growth of Uber and similar ride sharing options,” Morris says.

Data from March 2019 shows a sharp decrease in intention to buy a new vehicle compared to the end of 2018 – while in December, 2.125 million Australian intended on buying a new vehicle within four years, that has now dropped to 1.889 million.

Intention to purchase a new car within 12 months also dropped, from 553,000 to 476,000 – almost 15 per cent.

Source: Roy Morgan
Source: Roy Morgan

New attitudes to car ownership however will still go hand in hand with a shift to zero emissions transport, with millennial more likely to accept alternative drivetrains than their forebears.

“This research has highlighted the need to understand the generational differences in likely fuel choice as the market changes,” says Morris.

“For example the early adopters of changing vehicle fuels are most likely to be millennials as they appear to be more likely to move away from the traditional petrol engine cars.”

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