An overwhelming majority of Australian drivers would drive an electric car within 12 months, but are being held back by the higher price compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, a new survey has found.
According to virtual car dealership Carbar, which partnered in September with energy provider AGL to launch an EV subscription service, a huge 85% of 582 survey respondents said they would drive an EV.
But 60% said that the high price of EVs is holding them back. It was the single most important factor, ahead of access to chargers (52%) and driving range (now just 34%).
Because of the currently higher price of EVs, Carbar says that 69% of respondents indicated that they would prefer to drive an EV via a subscription model – far ahead of traditional methods of purchasing a new car such as finance (11%) and purchasing outright (5%).
“We believe subscriptions will play a huge role in the widespread adoption of this new technology. Especially while prices remain high and governments ease into subsiding EVs,” said Carbar founder and CEO Des Hang in a note by mail.
He says that at least part of the reason for a high interest in subscription models is that consumers are still testing the water with EVs.
“Almost two-thirds of those we surveyed would prefer to drive an EV via subscription. This way they can test the technology and whether their area has the infrastructure to support it before committing to an EV longer term.”
But the price of the subscription, unsurprisingly, is also a factor.
The survey showed that 7 out of ten people would prefer to subscribe to an EV if it were an entry-level model that cost between $150-350 a week.
Premium models that cost between $350-350 a week would be considered by 21% of drivers surveyed, and just 1% would consider a luxury vehicle for above $450/week.
Interestingly, the ratios for subscription differ significantly from purchasing, with just 41% of purchasers considering an entry-level EV, 34% saying they’d consider a premium vehicle and 6% interested in luxury EVs.
“Our survey confirms Australia’s desire for car access over ownership is here to stay and will only grow as the auto industry evolves and technology advances,” says Hang.
“While many want to transition away from petrol, few are willing to buy a car outright or get in debt to finance a risky purchase.
“Subscription allows consumers to transition to an EV and trial without forking out vast sums of money upfront or getting into longer-term debt. With subscription, customers can swap or change back to petrol with 2 weeks notice. It’s that easy.”
AGL’s subscription service will offer four models, including the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq for $299 a week, the Hyundai Kona Electric ($359/week), and the Tesla Model 3 ($599/week).
Carbar says it has ICE cars available from $129 week but while its subscription includes insurance, registration, maintenance and servicing, it doesn’t include fuel.
Moving to electric has been shown to cost less in terms of electricity costs compared to petrol or diesel. And it appears that the shift to electric is proving popular – a brief search on Carbar’s website showed that currently there are no electric vehicles available.
Hang says that while Carbar’s service can help introduce drivers to electric vehicles, he still believes government policy to accelerate the adoption of EVs is needed.
“Carbar has been a huge proponent of EV adoption both stocking its own range of EVs and working with companies like AGL to help them launch their own program,” he says.
“While we believe subscription will play a role, we also need policymakers to come to the table and introduce incentives to help speed up the adoption of this trend.”
Note: We understand there are some private suppliers offering subscriptions of EVs at a significant discount to those cited above. If you have more information, please let us know via [email protected]
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.