Today is the first day that New Zealand drivers can access an upgraded Clean Car “feebate” programme, which means as much as $NZ8,625 (about $A8,000) off the price of a new EV.
It’s worth mentioning because, largely as a result of a range of policy levers designed to encourage uptake of EVs, New Zealanders have more than 40 EV models currently available to choose from.
In addition to encouraging NZ drivers to buy an EV, the Clean Car Programme also pegs a penalty fee of up to $NZ5,175 onto polluting vehicles to discourage drivers from buying inefficient vehicles. The NZ government, unlike the Australian government, clearly wants to give a sign that it would like more EVs on the road.
In Europe – where strict vehicle emissions regulations result in big fines for car makers that do not cut their fleet average carbon emissions – there are even more EVs available. In Germany, where a €9,000 e-car bonus has been extended until the end of 2022, there were around 100 EV models available at last count with more being introduced each month.
In Australia – where states are introducing ad hoc measures to fill a gap in support for a transition to electric vehicles at a federal level – there are less than 40 models. And, carmakers are tending to introduce top-end variants ahead of more affordable versions in a bid to capitalise on profits.
The recent soaring values of used EVs in Australia are not only an indication of a rise in interest in zero-emissions transport options but also of the lack of success that local car importers have convincing overseas headquarters to commit to bringing in more new models – and allocate enough inventory – to offer more choice for Australian drivers.
So, what are some of the more affordable EV models that Australia is still missing out on?
VW ID series
Volkswagen Australia has made it clear on numerous occasions that it will be prioritising its ID series for markets where it must sell EV models in line with local policy and regulations.
While it is understood that when VW EVs do arrive, the first of these will be the ID.4 electric SUV, but a spokesperson for the German carmaker’s local arm told The Driven that an announcement for a local launch is still not yet forthcoming.
With a 52kWh battery, it offers 125kW power output and up to 345km driving range based on the WLTP testing cycle (about 308km in real world conditions).
Available from just under 30,000 euros (just under $A45,000 converted) in Germany once a generous EV rebate is applied, the “Pure” model variant of the ID.4 offers good value for money.When it was introduced in the US, it became the most affordable dual-motor offering on the market.
At the 2021 international World Car Awards, the ID.4 received the most votes from the 93 jurors and was named “World Car of the Year 2021“. The ID.4 scored particularly well in terms of innovation and environmental friendliness.
Renault Zoe E-Tech
The Renault Zoe was once offered in Australia, but was pulled in early 2021 with the French carmaker also citing a lack of policy. This means that Australia has missed out on the most recent iteration of what is one of Europe’s most popular EVs.
Now in its 10th year of production, the Zoe also offers good value for money, coming in at 22,024 euros ($A32,565 converted) in Germany after its so-called “innovation bonus”.
With its 52 kWh battery, the Zoe has a range of up to 395 kilometres, which is plenty for the daily commute to the office and weekend shopping in the city. Energy consumption is 17.7 kWh per 100 kilometres.
One light on the horizon for Renault in Australia is that is confirmed the Megane E-Tech electric SUV, which is available in Europe from 35,200 euros ($A52,087 converted), will be here in 2023.
With the 500e, Fiat has replaced its iconic retro small car with an electric model. Compared to the original combustion engine versions, the car is slightly roomier but its interior remains true to its predecessors with a chic retro design.
With a 70kW motor it takes a good four seconds to reach 60 km/h and nine seconds to reach 100 km/h. Depending on the driving profile, it can achieve between 190 to 257 kilometres on one battery charge. And with a maximum charge rate of 85 kW, the 500e is charged to 80 percent in half an hour.
There are three basic variants to choose from: “Action”, “Icon” and “La Prima”, starting with the Action which has a 23.8kWh battery.
The Fiat 500e is reportedly the easiest EV to get your hands on in Europe. This is not to say European drivers can buy one and have it delivered next week – it still has a three-month waitlist according to German electric and solar new site efahrer.
But with a starting price of just 20,790 euros ($A30,774 converted) after Germany’s e-bonus is applied, it’s worth the wait. However, not in Australia, because it is not available here.
LDV T60 EV ute
The LDV T60 EV makes this list because it is available in New Zealand, but not in Australia.
In New Zealand, the T60 EV ute is already available to pre-order for $NZ1,000, and although final pricing is yet to confirmed it is thought it will arrive well under the New Zealand government’s $NZ80,000 Clean Car Discount threshold.
While that equates to around $A74,000 – perhaps not on the affordable car spectrum – it’s still well within a typical spend of a tradie looking for a decent ute.
Available in a choice of six colours, it will be capable of towing 1 tonne braked and lugging a 900kg payload, and offer between 340-400km driving range.
While some auto sites have reported it could be the first electric ute available in Australia, a spokesperson for LDV in Australia would only vaguely say when we asked about a possible Australian introduction that, “We have an exciting range of vehicles coming through for the Australian market, and will communicate more in due course.”
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor 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 Y and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.