Electric Cars Off To A Slow Start In Australia

The idea of ditching petrol and running a car off electricity is good in theory, but high prices and a lack of options has meant take up of electric vehicles has been extremely slow. It turns out that the top-selling EV in Australia last year sold a grand total of 30 vehicles.

While there were only two real players on the market last year - the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Roadster - according to a story in Drive today, only 30 of the Mitsubishi cars actually ended up selling last year, with a total of 49 EVs sold all up.

This year sees the introduction of a few more models, with Holden, Nissan and Renault all launching EVs in Australia, but research from the US indicates that demand is waning given the massive increase in price for an EV over the petrol variant it's based on. The Holden Volt, for example, will cost just under $60,000 when it launches later this year, compared to the $21,000 of the Cruze it is based on.

Other concerns are the limited range and lack of charging infrastructure around the country.

Still, despite all these concerns, I thought there would have been more than 49 electric cars sold in Australia last year. That number is kind of depressing, really.

[Drive]


Comments

    And because electric cars are a step backwards in technology. Great idea, but for how long it takes for a charge, and how little distance they go, why would you make yourself so much worse off when there's a petrol station just around the corner?

      Because you actually recognise the fact that we're using petrol at an absolutely unsustainable rate and you have the means to fork out the extra cash for a vehicle that doesn't keep on sucking up this natural rosource? Nah, pfffft just keep using up our natural resources right. I mean they'll obviously LaSt FoReVaH!!

        @Corteks typical idiotic environmentist ignorant opinion based on nothing but idiolistic bullshit rather than fact. You take your magical electric car home and charge it with electricity provided from burning ur so call evil fossil fuels. Unless you argogence can be converted to electricity, these cars are 100% pointless.

          You do realise you can choose to buy 100% renewable power don't you?

            "You do realise you can choose to buy 100% renewable power don’t you?"
            BS, you cannot. What you think the power company are putting up special power-lines to your house caring just your special leftist environmental electricity? Seriously LOL!

              Thing is, Corey, that the power stations are spewing forth their planet killing pollutants whether you are using the electricity or not, so hooking up your EV to a wall-socket overnight won't actually increase emissions one iota. Of course, if half the households in the country had EVs, it would be a different story but right now it really is zero-emissions, regardless of whether you pay for green energy or not.

                I think I know what an American Leftist is. Is an Aussie leftist the same?? In the U.S.they used to call leftists communist but now it's a little hypocritical since our number one business partner is the RED Chinese The reason electric cars are doing poorly in the U.S. is because . you can't find any place to buy one.

                  i'm always surprised at the number of people not understanding the point of centralised power. this is primary school stuff.

                  large, centralised power-stations use bulk power production as a method of reducing the cost of producing power. because all of the power for the area, is produced in one place, fewer people such as maintenance staff are required, and cooling can be centralised and made more efficient.

                  a big power plant of any kind is more efficient than millions of small power plants, one for each home.

                  this helps the company by increasing profits and reducing costs.

                  it also helps us, because, if all our cars were electric, the power-station could be torn down and rebuilt as a renewable source, and every car on the road would simultaneously be converted from fossil fuels to green energy.

                  at the moment, tearing down the power station and making it green would convert all our houses and appliances to environmentally friendly devices, but our cars will continue to guzzle fossil fuels.

                  by converting our cars to electricity as well, we put financial pressure on the power companies to change to green power as they will become the largest polluter instead of the cars.

                  economics, capitalism, green living, all as one continuous process.

              What about charging your car during the day using solar? Thats what I plan on doing once EV's are cheaper...Give it 10 years and heaps of people will have them I believe...

                So basically electric cars are a great solution so long as not many people use them and if not many people are using them, petrol based emissions will be hardly decreased at all. Sounds like a well thought out and useful product...or just another enirowanker fad.

          Corey its called science, i'm not sure Corteks is the one that is argogent

            "Corey its called science,"
            No it's called uneducated young lefties thinking they understand everything cause they've completed their first year at uni. Put down the pot.

              So Corey, what happens when there is no more petrol? Will you consider yourself leftist if 90% of the population are driving electric vehicles and you choose to buy one? Or will you be catching the electric powered bus to work, or walking?

        May as well use it while it is there, especially as the alternative is so far short of the mark. In any event, renewable energy for cars is also available in the form of E85 and even LPG is an abundant resource that burns far more cleanly than petrol or disiesel. i.e. EVs are not the answer to Peak Oil.

      Handy if you're home and you need to fill up but what if you're running low on petrol and you're in an area you're unfamiliar with? I would love a car I can charge while I'm home and never ever have to visit a fuel station of any kind.

        Actually, that is not correct.
        1) We import oil but we don’t import coal
        2) Coal being burnt at the one location is actually more efficient
        3) Its cleaner in the long run, and its delivered right to your home.
        I have solar cells on my roof, so I won’t even be burning coal to make electricity for my car.

        Let go of the idea that transportation is limited to loud vehicles. Electric cars are efficient and work well with few moving parts and much less maintenance. Yep, they are limited in range, but other electric cars on the market have a backup generator which works fabulously.

          We only import about one-third of our oil and much of that is for heavy fuels and lubricants, as Bass Strait crude is too light for many applications. But for petrol, it is just fine and most of the stuff you pump into your car comes out of Bass Strait.

          The solar cells on your roof would take a month to recharge your car and won't recharge it at all at the most convenient time - overnight. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

            Exactly. So many people keep harping on about solar and wind power like it is the solution to everything without any knowledge about energy density of these technologies compared to typical base load power sources (coal, nuclear, gas and to a lesser extent hydro). IMHO We should be trying to develop thorium fission power if the electric car has a future.

      The electric cars a step backwards in technology may be true. It also true that the technologies for a more efficient buttery are already out there but there is a strong opposition from the oil company that have try to eliminate these technologies playing sneaky power games. The EV1 was a reality from GM many people love that. the original range of the Ovshinky battery was 201 but GM cut back the range down to 150 miles because was to good. At the end of the day the GM starts mass production and and the EV1 was for sale. Despite very little advertising from the sale was really good. When GM realize the EV1 was a threat GM recalls all the EV1 sold and destroyed. Today only one EV1 survives in a museum but the Ovshinky battery has been taken off.

    More like a sidestep than backwards for our family- we've got two all electric vehicles powered by our (large) array of solar panels- 10,000 electric kilometers so far for "free" and no carbon emissions (large initial outlay though). One is a Blade Electron (often overlooked but so far represents a significant slice of the Australian EV market) . The other is home converted. EVs won't suit all people but they provide for 95% of our driving needs.

      From what I am aware of, up to may last year, solar panels produced more of a carbon footprint than they saved in electricity generation over their lifetime.

        If you are going to include the emissions for manufacturing a solar panel then you should also add up the emissions of building a new power generation plant as an alternative. Most people who compare petrol to electricity like to include the real cost of providing the electricity to the socket but then omit the real cost of bring petrol to the pump at your local servo.

    no-one knows how much it will actually put to their electricity bill either. will our bills jump by $1000 a month?

      I hope you are joking, look at how much you pay per kw and work it out, small hint it will be a lot less than fuel to cover the same distance.
      Electric cars won't sell until they are the same price as petrol cars.
      I personally wish they would allow a low speed class like Uk and europe, they would be ideal as a second car for around town use.

      No.

      But it is a good question if you don't include absolutely absurd shock figures :P

    It is a form of Price Gouging.
    You can all feel very environmental, but it takes a true believer to spend this sort of money for little benefit (none at the price)

    Of course, the price comparison probably breaks even over a 10 year ownership.
    (I just ran a few spreadsheets, the cost of ownership (Neglecting Cost of Money) for equivalent sized cars, is MUCH cheaper for a Petrol powered car.
    Fuel is only a small part of the cost of ownership. I factored in Mechanical repairs, and replacement of Batteries, more frequently for electric than hybrid, and more mechanical breakdowns for the Mechanical car, than the electric variants....
    In the end, you could run a V8 Commodore for only a small cost penalty over 15 years, instead of a small city car, and a v6 commodore nearly Breaks even.. If you select a Ford Focus, you are in front by more than the cost of the car after 15 years.

    The break even purchase price is, 25K for (Small car price comparison) Conventional, 28.5K for Hybrid, and 29.3K for Electric, IF... the Electric gets 1L/100km equivalent (unlikely) the Hybrid gets 3L/100 km equivalent ,and the Petrol gets 5.5L/100 km....

    Until these variants are Price competitive they are dead in the water.... And I like the Idea of Electric cars, imagine how I would have compared them if I hated them..

      Cheers, very interesting. Looks like you have really thought it through.

    Electricity come form burning coal in this country, so any environmental benefit you think you're causing by purchasing one of these is moot.

      100% coreect. A hybrid, which charges batteries from braking, coasting and downhill runs - plus partially from petrol are about as 'honest and transparent' as it gets. As things stand, our purely electric cars would in fact be coal powered. Yeah, very green...

        Pretty sure a hybrid car uses petrol to supplement the battery. Charging from kinetic energy (slowing down, coasting & braking) is common to both hybrids and full electric cars... it has nothing to do with the petrol component.

    The reason they're not selling well in this country is because they have 2 advantages over petrol cars, 1 They are more environmentally friendly , 2 they're cheaper to run. Neither of those advantages are applicable in Australia. We burn copious amounts of fossil fuels to generate electricity in this country, and no-one is willing to admit the need for nuclear power, so it will be that way for a LONG time to come. There goes all the environmental reasoning behind it. And secondly, when you compare the current cost differences of these cars, the cost of petrol and the cost of electricity, you're looking at almost 20 years to actually make you money BACK on the initial purchase, in reality with how ridiculously quickly electricity prices are rising in this country it would take a lot longer than that. So there goes your cost saving reason as well (unless you plan to keep the car for say 50 years).

    My wife recently bought herself a brand spanking new Hybrid Lexus. An absolute peach of a car and while it needs petrol (at times) to run, it's super efficient at around 5L/100km. For the time being that's about as good as it gets, until pure battery technology catches up and charging (or battery swap) stations are everywhere. In other words, still a decade or two away...

    I am glad so many people have these ridiculous opinions. Made my decision to buy an EV so much easier. In addition to always wanting one, it came down to simple assessment - It's faster, cooler, fun-er, tonnes more efficient and easier to drive. Saves me money - only $9 to charge, Govt. pays me for my solar feed that charges my car and house (so zero emissions) no servicing costs or expensive replacement parts and Saves me time - ZERO time at the petrol station, no time in dealerships.

    Happy to have left the old generation, in so many ways.

      Disconnect the power-line that runs to your house and rely solely on Solar electricity. What's that? You can't? So no matter how much solar electricity you generate the Coal Power plants still need to be running 24/7? So your argument is pointless. Good work Captain Planet.

      "ZERO time at the petrol station"
      4 minutes fuelling up at the petrol station once a week or being stuck at home for hours on end while my shitty little car charges....yea your winning for sure.

        “ZERO time at the petrol station”
        4 minutes fuelling up at the petrol station once a week or being stuck at home for hours on end while my stupid little car charges….yea your winning for sure.

          You really are a pessimistic little soul aren't you. All new technologies need time to adapt and grow, nothing is perfect first time out. The rest of us will have a little faith that the world will come up with a (or hopefully many) solutions to the insane usage of natural resources and CO emissions our fast paced world sucks up. Get off your butt and do something about it rather than sit at home and whinge.

            Firstly it's CO2 not "CO", if you want to get on your high horse at least make an effort to appear as though you know what you're talkin about.

            Even IF financially viable alternatives to fossil fuels are eventually created, it doesn't change the fact that people who drive electric cars now are doing nothing more than being completely ignorant to the current situation and achieving nothing other than pay more for a less convenient vehicle.

            As for me getting of my butt and doing something, I am a Human Caused Climate Change Sceptic, as such, the only thing I plan on doing is laughing at the sheep.

            Look out for ManBearPig!

    I would consider buying one, if it weren't for the fact that >90% of electricity in this country is from burning coal, oil, or gas.

    The damn things are too small.. before you have a go, I personally own a tiny Suzuki Alto (3-cyclinder, 1.0L) car.. it's tiny.. for me and my fiancee, it's fine and a great little car to get around in.. very fuel efficient and all that.

    I just see so many bigger cars out there and after having this small car for a while now, I can clearly see the merits in owning a bigger car especially if you have a family. Doing anything more than quick trips around the city, bit of grocery shopping and the like, is nearly impossible with the little cars. I am easily able to keep up with the traffic, even on long, windy hills and freeways.. but you just can't fit a lot in them.

    Also, the range is a bit depressing still. I'm not sure on the range of this particular car but most of these electric things have around 50km.. and if all you ever used it for was a city car, that would be fine.. but who's got the cash to throw $60k into a "spare" car that gets used only in the city.. because you are going to need to have another car, or rent one, for all the other trips as well as those trips that require a bigger car. We certainly won't be able to do what we need once our family gets going in a few years.

    I'm all for these new cars but they have a ways to go before they become mainstream.

    GM say it costs $2.50 to recharge a Volt, which gives you 60km or so. OTOH, $2.50 worth of petrol will get you about 30km or so in a similarly sized car. Mind you, these things aren't about saving you money, they have a slightly more philanthropic agenda.

      There's also the cool factor.. I love the idea of having a silent car :)

    ill keep my 6.0L v8 thanks

      Why not keep your gas guzzling car for long trips and get an electric for commuting to work?

    Limited range wouldnt be such an issue if there were as many charging stations as there are petrol pumps. Until this happens I determinately wont be making the switch. The other thing is that some of these hybrids and electric cars just cost too much for simple cars that dont seem any better in features than a Hyundai i30. The price needs to drop fast to make them competitive in the market and encourage consumer uptake.

    if cars weren't so stupidly expensive in this country in comparison to everywhere else i'd already be driving a Nissan Leaf. But you have to be kidding to make sacrifices for that sort of money

    Man for people who are supposedly tech savy I can't beleave no one has mentioned HYDROGEN FUEL CELL !!! That is the way of the future.
    Japan was on the verge of having this installed on their freeways before the quakes and tsunami's
    There is NOTHING cool about an electric shoe box nore a Hybrid.

    Hey guys, I am an aussie working in LA for a PEV infrastructure company called EV Connect. There is a lot of misinformation out there on PEVs, both from those who are pro and anti the technology.

    To address the range limitations:
    1. The current range of full electric vehicles do not allow for inter city travel, this car is for commuting and daily activities. Look up how many families have more than one car in Australia; do you think that having one car with virtually zero upkeep would be useful? (60k for a volt is a bit rich, they go for about 30k over here, that's one long sea voyage...)
    2. Hybrids can go inter-city, but you will be using fuel. That doesn't stop you from using its electrical capacity the other 90% of the time you are not travelling between cities. A lot of regional folk and tradies will not be able to adapt this tech; but again, look at where the cars are - the burbs and the cities.

    Electricity Generation:
    1. Nuclear is always an option. I was living in oz when the electricity bills went up by 40% or so; due to the lack of investment in power gen; why? political uncertainty. Those dreaming of solar, tidal, thermal, etc etc; happening in the next decade are smoking. we cant change things overnight, and there has to be an efficient and cheap way to transition technology - ie let the clean coal guys get on with the job.
    2. Elec gen of any sort is cleaner than petroleum (obviously apart from petroleum generated power!); and in fact is more efficient in terms of power generated. Perhaps we need a 3rd oil embargo to remind those that the regimes we buy oil from are not in fact our friends or allies. (obviously happy to retract that statement if someone finds saudi sized reserves in NZ - in which case I think permanent Australian statehood would be good for them).

    Costs:
    1. yeah its expensive, really expensive; but so is every new technology. does anyone remember putting down a few thousand for the VGA? the 386? what about the first playstation, or the first apple computers? they have one factory making the suckers for GM, a factory they spent the last 2 years re-tooling; they just finished. battery prices are likely to be halved by 2015 according to Pike research; speculators may have a hand in keeping it up, but the Chinese monopoly on lithium is slowly crumbling
    2. the statement shouldnt be 'it costs too much, i wouldnt want one'; it should be 'i want one, i just want to buy it for cheaper'; and boys and girls, we are only a few short years away from this.
    3. 50k PAID deposit holders for the Leaf and Volt in America, every plug-in Prius on the production line for 2012 is bought; you can barely get a decent one (today's tech) until 2013 - that's why Australia is getting the Italian ones shortly, mind the shore boys!

    Charging:
    1. from our figures, and others if you want me to provide a dozen citations, happy to do so; 80% of charging occurs at home, overnight, while you sleep, and you are not driving... on a level 2, 3 phase (min infra for oz), you can get a full charge from even the most stubborn of EVs in 8 hours. its like running the dryer or convection oven. the other 20% is public and workplace.
    2. Once an owner has driven an EV for a week, they know the limitations (there is always the inevitable first break down caused by running out of juice - just make sure you get the dealer to give you some extras to cover that - as you can only use a flat bed tow truck) of their vehicles. i get 150mpg on my volt, my boss with a leaf hasnt paid for petrol for 9 months; with no breakdowns, no work on the vehicle and no visits to get the oil changed (much less servicing for these vehicles)
    3. The times quoted for charging are from 0-100% (which is actually 20-80% to protect the battery - ask an engineer mate); no driver gets down to zero... the mileage gauges are remarkably accurate if you don't have a lead foot. so your charge time is actually far less than you hear from those criticising it.
    4. safety; there have been 2 fires in the US in the last year from Volts which previously in accidents. Volt has fixed the issue and oz will get the fixed version. compare to 180k car fires in the US in 2011... caused by the surprisingly combustible liquid in the cars we park very close to our abodes. ever wondered why the firee's get the scene of an accident first?

    Coolness
    1. Check out the new Tesla S and the Fisker Karma before you say a word. the fully loaded Tesla S (im sure it will come in at 300k in oz!) can drive 300mi without need for a charge...
    2. In LA you are still more likely to pick up the ladies with a convertible, but hit the beaches all up and down the coast with the nerdy EV, and you can hear the purrs over the silent electrical engine

    hit me up on [email protected] if you guys want some more info, im not operating in Oz, but always happy to help.

      The present day hydrogen fuel cell cars get poor gas mileage and need fueling stations plus you will be paying a lot more to get a lot less.

    How about we get some FACTS into this story! Mitsubishi imported only 40 MiEVs into Australia and they had applications to lease over 100. The biggest market for MiEVs is Norway where since it's launch in Jan 2011 has held the top spot in the small car segment. The original annual estimate for Norway was 400, by December they delivered the 1,000th. And Hybrids are doing ok too. The 3rd Generation Prius has been the top selling car in Japan since it's launch and Toyota received 60,000 pre-orders for the new Prius C.

      Wonderful stats and completely illrelevant.. this is an article about take up in AUSTRALIA not world wide..

    I'd happily drive an EV if they weren't so expensive to buy in the first place. Who can afford to pay 3 times as much for their car, just so they can save a few dollars on petrol and (perhaps) have a warm fuzzy feeling inside?

    EV take-up in Australia will never take off until either the high barrier to entry is lowered, or the price of petrol triples. Even the fuel savings of diesel cars often doesn't really save you money unless you drive above average kilometres.

    I thought about getting an electric motorbike just for commuting to work or travel when I know I don't have to bring other people/things. The one place I found selling them in Australia wanted more than 10 grand for a bike. You can buy a small second hand car for that!

    When EVs are competitively priced they will take off.

    +1 to all of Coreys posts.
    Corey, visit www.joannenova.com.au
    There you will find incredible detailed discussions about the real science of climate change and every fact under the sun proving AGW being a load of crap.
    Dont listen to the young opinionated mainstream media junkies rattle off green agenda catch phrases.

    As for the electric car. . . You seen the size of the batteries in them? How expensive and how often do you think youll be replacing that?
    If everyone started driving electric cars where and how are we going to dispose of the millions of highly dangerous car batteries? You think the battery is the size is like whats in petrol cars now? No! The battery is half the car! You are going to have a massive toxic waste disposal issue!
    Greenies just dont think beyond their uneducated turned up noses.

    For me, the development of electric cars should not stop. It is a promising one and it just needs further developments and modifications to improve its speed, life span and other stuffs.

    re Warcroft:

    Talking about those rattling off catch phrases Worcroft... there is a secondary market that exists for lithium batteries, they are reprocessed and used again. They already do it for lithium phone batteries. dangerous pollution? please do tell, I am all ears.

    two points:

    1. there are a lot of people who want to argue about global warming, and I can't deny a lot of EV proponents do as well. In the States (and this should be reflected in oz) the main argument is energy independence. We should not be beholden to the middle east for oil supply; which we undeniably are; yes current lithium production is under Chinese control, but I would suggest you look at the sheer volume of production coming online in Australia alone in the next two years.

    2. I have a feeling there might be a more toxic and noxious substance than lithium in ordinary car batteries (which are replaced often, plus add the sheer number of cars on the road), I believe its called lead.

    I do agree that there is a lot of ignorance coming from the Greenies, but just as much coming from your camp as well mate. As always the truth lies somewhere in the middle, the uneducated thing to do is to deny or embrace technology without thinking about it.

    Further,

    Batteries cost at the highest; 12k today. should be halved in the next two years. they will most likely need replacement after 10 years of use; thus the car companies lease the battery to you - its in the cost of the car. manufacturers typically give a warranty for 8+ years on the life of the battery. what happens when you need to swap it out? you lease another battery.

    Final word: these cars are not for everyone. A ute, truck, mini-van or a convertible are not for everyone either.

    The simple fact is that the tech is moving quickly in efficiency, it will be cheaper to run EVs if you dont have long haul driving to do (most short range logistics companies and factories in Cali and a number of other states are already are using EV vans, trucks, forklifts and other industrial equipment - why - because they can refer to a spreadsheet in terms of how far their vehicles drive each day, select the tech that suits, look at the costs and make a decision based on NPV), and finally if you want to pay and pay and pay the enormous taxes in oz on fuel, go nuts (petrol is half the price over here, and EVs are still gaining a lot of support from business and individuals).

    Car companies don't actually make their profit from sales any more, the only reason they are still in business is the subsidies offered by the oil and fuel industries. This is why when there is a revived demand for electric vehicles the Car companies go on a quest to "Prove" why burning fossil fuel is a better idea for you. So the big car companies go out on this quest to build the most ridiculous looking, uncomfortable to drive, inconvenient and most expensive electric car they can conceive of. Meanwhile the Media and Government joins the battle and squashes any actual competition via blackout bias main stream media and targeted new regulations on small companies. Eventually I think either China / Russia or India will actually embrace the EV concept and allow it to be mass-produced in their country and then it will probably be too late to play catch up, with the revenues raised they will probably end up monopolising, controlling and shaping the future for decades after as we enter a new era of technology. These oil companies will all go bust and it will be their own fault.

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