Electric Vehicle Sales in Australia Tripled in 2019 But We’re Still Lagging Behind

Electric Vehicle Sales in Australia Tripled in 2019 But We’re Still Lagging Behind
Image: Getty Images

Electric vehicle sales in Australia tripled in 2019 despite the lack of incentives from the government. But we still have a long way to go.

A new report, released by industry body Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), details the rise in electric vehicle (EV) sales from 2,216 to 6,718, while petrol vehicle sales fell by 7.8 per cent.

Despite the unforeseen global pandemic wreaking havoc on the car industry around the world, electric vehicle sales in the country remained consistent with 3,226 being sold in 2020’s first six months. The report concedes that figure includes an estimate of Teslas being bought as the major EV company does not release its local sales figures.

Victoria and NSW had the highest total sales of electric vehicles at 2,540 and 2,532, respectively, but it was the country’s capital that took out the highest percentage of electric vehicle sales. The ACT had 83 electric vehicles purchased for every 10,000 vehicles sold.

While the figures paint a positive picture of the industry’s growth locally, Australia still lags behind in EV ownership as a proportion of population.

Electric vehicle uptake is halted by a lack of public chargers

The nearly 7,000 EVs bought in 2019 only represented 0.6 per cent of all car sales, according to the report’s figures, while the global average hit 2.5 per cent or 2.26 million vehicles.

EV sales 2019
Electric vehicle sale figures in Australia for 2019, excluding Tesla sales. Image: Electric Vehicle Council

Among some of the key reservations Australians had for purchasing an electric car was anxiety of its range. While public charging infrastructure had grown by 40 per cent since July 2019, it was still an important part of the puzzle.

Results of a survey undertaken by 2,902 respondents and published in the report showed 68 per cent wanted the government to invest in more charging stations.

“Public charging infrastructure is needed along major highways, in urban centres and at popular destinations,” the report read.

“While the majority of charging tends to occur at home, for Australians without offstreet parking, home charging can sometimes be inconvenient or impossible. Public charging infrastructure is therefore not only a matter of convenience but often critical to allowing for the continued uptake of electric vehicles.”

EV prices play a part but affordable options are on the horizon

Aside from the infrastructural limitations, the high price point of energy vehicles has also been a deterrent for many Australians wanting to ditch their petrol guzzlers.

The survey’s results show 50 per cent of the respondents were discouraged by the cost of an EV compared with a comparable petrol vehicle.

Tesla, the most recognisable EV brand, sits comfortably in Australia’s luxury car price range. A standard model of its entry-level Model 3 will set you back a cool $73,900 before on-road costs — a price that increased as recently as March. More expensive models in the lineup are stung with the Luxury Car Tax, which sees a 33 per cent added on after it exceeds a certain threshold. That threshold for the 2019-20 tax year was $75,526 for fuel-efficient vehicles and $67,525 for other vehicles.

Even Elon Musk, the company’s founder, agreed the costs seemed high for customers Down Under but little has been done to remedy it.

The horizon looks promising, according to the report.

“By the end of 2021, we expect to see six new electric vehicles on the road — five of these will be
battery electric vehicles, and one plug in hybrid. Two of these will be under $50,000,” the report read.

Those two vehicles include BMW’s Mini Electric and MG’s ZS EV, tipped to cost around $35,191 and $46,990, respectively.

Maybe it’ll be enough to tip the scales a little further toward EV uptake but for now, it’s a waiting game with our environment suffering the brunt in the meantime.