Full battery electric vehicle sales grew fourfold in May compared to the same time last year, with models such as Nissan Leaf outselling the previous month and the newly available Kia Niro also making a solid debut.
Porsche’s first all electric sports car, the Taycan, did particularly well, selling 53 units in May and 326 for the year to date. That made the luxury car one of Australia’s most popular EVs, despite its astronomical ticket price that starts at $190,000 and goes close to $300,000.
The Taycan accounted for nearly 10 per cent of overall Porsche sales for the month. Sadly, that wasn’t replicated elsewhere (apart from Tesla, of course) and EVs remain a minuscule part of the Australian new car market.
Of the more-than 100,809 vehicles sold in May, just 436 were full battery electric, meaning full battery EVs still made up just 0.4 per cent of total sales. For the year to date, the total is 1,691, out of 456,804 new car sales.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles accounted for 245 sales – double last May’s figures – pushing the total market share of full and plug-in EVs to around 0.7 per cent of the market. Plain hybrids more than doubled to 7,105.
It should be noted that the figures, released by auto industry group the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, did not include Tesla sales because the US company is not a member of the FCAI and does not publish its Australia sales figures.
Last year Tesla sold a total of around 3,000. Assuming similar or slightly higher sales this year, that would bump up the total EV market penetration by a few basis points, but still wouldn’t break the 1 per cent mark. EV sales in the UK and Europe, by contrast, make up around 10 per cent of sales and are rapidly rising.
In Australia, it was petrol and diesel guzzling SUVs and utes that dominated sales in May, driving the market to a new high for 2021, and again demonstrating that, in lieu of any serious national-level policy to make EVs affordable and convenient to use, Australian consumers and businesses are overwhelmingly opting for high carbon, climate-damaging technology.
Total car sales were up 68.3 per cent on last May, which was during the COVID car market slump, and up 8.9 per cent on May 2019 – showing the surprise boom in car sales that began late last year, and has exacerbated a global shortage of semiconductor chips continues.
FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said the booming sales demonstrated consumer and business confidence.
“I expect this situation will continue to improve in the second half of this calendar year as confidence continues to grow, coupled with incentives such as the extension of the depreciation allowance for business which was announced in the Federal Budget during the month,” he said.
“The result also highlights the outstanding efforts by all parties in the supply chain in continuing to meet the demands of their of their customers in the face of ongoing challenges such as the shortage of microprocessors and shipping delays,” Mr Weber said.”
Among the EV modesl, Hyundai sold 54 Ioniqs, up from 52 last year, putting its total for the year at 163 for the year, which is way down on this time last year, when it had sold 229.
Nissan Leaf sold 42 units, up from 14 last year, putting the total for the year at 191, up on 129 this time last year.
In its first month on the Australian market, the Kia e-Niro – a small SUV which The Driven reviewed here – sold 36 units. It was the best selling car in the UK last October.
The Mercedes EQC sold 13 units, up from 9 last year, Audi E-tron sold 12 for the month, double the 6 it sold last year. Jaguar I-Pace sold 10 units, up from 3 last year, while BMW i3 sold 3 in May, down from 4 last year. 23 for the year.
The FCAI data did not break down the figures of the electric versions of the Hyundai Kona, the Mini or the MG ZS. We have reached out to those companies for furter information.
James Fernyhough is a reporter at RenewEconomy and The Driven. He has worked at The Australian Financial Review and the Financial Times, and is interested in all things related to climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.