Four pure electric vehicles top the sales ladder for plug-in electric passenger vehicles in Australia, The Driven can reveal.
Vehicles such as the Toyota RAV4 drove record sales of hybrids (which can’t be plugged in) in August, outselling diesel passenger cars and SUVs for the first time ever (6,436 vs 6,108 units sold according to Vfacts).
But the data also suggests that if drivers are going for a car that they can plug in and recharge, they will more often than not go for one that doesn’t use fuel at all, even if they are a good bit more expensive.
Out of three drive-trains designed to lower or completely do away with carbon emissions, hybrid and plug-in hybrid are cheaper than all-electric counterparts because their batteries are smaller.
But it is the (generally) more expensive all-electric vehicles that people are going for, according to plug-in sales figures collated by The Driven.
The Tesla Model 3, Hyundai Kona Electric and all-electric Ioniq, and the Nissan Leaf claimed the four top places in EV sales in Australia from the beginning of January to the end of August, 2020.
The first two – the Model 3 and the Kona Electric – make up about two-thirds of all EVs sold in Australia this year to date, and both cost in excess of $66,000 (in the case of the Model 3, it is at least $80,000 after on-road costs are added).
The top position, of course, goes to the Tesla Model 3, which is available in three variants (Standard Range Plus, Long Range and Performance), claiming 60% of the plug-in electric market in Australia in 2020 so far.
It has now been on the market for a little more than 12 months in Australia, and as in other countries it is driving a shift in preference towards electric vehicles while sales of other vehicle fuel types decline.
With its updatable operating system that includes not just car-specific interfaces but also games, “modes” such as camp mode and dog mode, Tesla has re-framed what it is to drive and own a vehicle – and it is more akin to a smartphone on wheels than anything built by a legacy car maker.
And although it is the most expensive vehicle in Australia’s top 5 plug-in vehicles, more people are willing to make the stretch to own a Tesla Model 3.
Next most popular is the Hyundai Kona, which has 480km driving range, and is the only all-electric compact SUV available in Australia for under $100,000 (well, that is being delivered to customers – the MG ZS EV is due imminently).
The fifth place-getter was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which starts from $50,990 for a base ES model before on-roads.
|Tesla Model 3||1700*|
|Hyundai Kona EV||310|
|Nissan Leaf EV||250|
|Hyundai Ioniq Electric EV||231|
|Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||217|
*Estimates based on shipping data
All-electric vehicles are more expensive due to the current cost of batteries, but they do away with the consumption of petrol and diesel altogether, and even when powered off a coal-fired grid are much more efficient than combustion vehicles.
They also have the added advantage of needing next to no maintenance – other than changing the tyres, checking the brake fluid and filling the windscreen wiper reservoir.
And they would be even more common if it weren’t for uncertainty stemming from distinct lack of supportive federal policy to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles.
This lack of policy has resulted in car makers pulling models from the local market, such as the Renault Zoe. It has also meant that car makers are more likely to bring in less efficient, older plug-in hybrid models, which have been called the car industry’s “wolf in sheep’s clothing” unless their owners take care and charge them often enough to be driven mostly in electric-only mode.
The federal government will this week release its Technology Investment Roadmap, which is expected to include a plan to roll out electric vehicle charging technology, and an Electric Vehicle Strategy by the end of 2020.
Last Thursday it announced a $74 million “Future Fuels Fund” which will include funding for businesses looking to host EV charging facilities and which could be operating fleets of EVs.
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.