Electric and hybrid vehicle sales continued an upward climb in July, yet again defying the deep and ongoing slump that has afflicted Australia’s wider auto market for more than two years.
Vfacts figures released today reveal a 20% drop in sales in the year July compared to the same period a year earlier, but electric vehicle sales, albeit from a low base, surged to achieve a 27.8% increase across all segments, despite a dip in July.
Broken down, this equated to a 44.5% increase in electric passenger vehicles to 490, a 12.2% increase in SUVs, and 30% increase in light commercial sales. The numbers do not include Tesla – although Tesla is a member of the FCAI it does not reveal its local sales figures.
According to private sources, just 198 Tesla vehicles were shipped to Australia last quarter, and an additional 80 have been loaded on cargo ships bounder for Australia in July.
Regardless, the Tesla Model 3 remains the leader for 2020 – and for that matter the entire EV market in Australia, followed by the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Nissan Leaf, which has taken over the Ioniq to claim third place.
Still, electric cars and plug in vehicles remain a fraction of overall sales in Australia – less than 1 per cent – even though the share in many European countries is more than 10 per cent, and more than 50 per cent in Norway.
Sadly, Australia will soon be saying goodbye to the Renault Zoe on the below chart, with Renault citing poor sales and lack government support.
For the first time, the figures collated for the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) also separated plug-in hybrids from all-electrics. Whether this is an indication of the sector’s recognition of the transition to electric mobility and the difference between low and zero emissions vehicles is not clear, but it is refreshing.
The new split, which The Driven had previously reported on thanks to industry sources, reveals that plug-in hybrids are also still experiencing growth in the passenger segment – but not in the SUV segment.
This instead has been taken up by hybrid sales, a trend that has been noted before in both private and non-private segments (which Vfacts no longer separates).
Across all segments, this has resulted in a minor 2.8% increase in plug-in hybrid sales as opposed to the 93% jump in hybrid sales.
The industry at large has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which FCAI boss Tony Weber says will only continue with increased restrictions. Once again, the FCAI did not mention the increase in electric of plug in sales.
“The Australian automotive industry, like many sectors in the Australian market, continues to face challenging and difficult conditions, exacerbated by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Weber in a statement.
“The extended Stage 4 Restrictions which have now been invoked in Australia’s second largest market, Victoria, will no doubt further challenge the industry during the coming months,” Mr Weber said.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect confirmed sales figures from Hyundai.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.