The popularity of EVs is on the rise, but Australia is lagging behind on uptake.

By Stephen Corby

Posted on December 7, 2018

Australians are famously keen early adopters when it comes to technology – we strapped wearable tech to our wrists at twice the rate of Europeans once Apple made it cool, for example – and yet when it comes to buying Electric Vehicles (EVs), we are strangely off the pace.

While the ‘Bloomberg New Energy Finance’ report predicts EV sales worldwide will hit 11 million in 2025, and 30 million by 2030, Australia has just an estimated 6,000 EVs on its roads at present.

In 2017, we bought 1,123 electric cars, which was a slight jump over 2016, when sales were just 765, out of national car sales of 1,178,133.

The tide seems set to turn, however, this year with the launch of the first genuinely usable, family-sized EV priced at under A$50,000 this week, and national motoring bodies like the NRMA joining big global companies like Jaguar to pour money into charging infrastructure.

Hyundai’s mid-sized Ioniq launched to rave reviews this week, with a price of A$45,000, making it cheaper than the much smaller, but very cute, Renault Zoe city car, which is already selling in small numbers for A$47,490.

At the top end of town there has long been far more excitement about EVs like the Tesla Model S, which starts at A$105,000.

Perhaps the most exciting, and attractive new option, however, is the Jaguar I-PACE, a big, bold electric SUV that starts at A$119,000.

Realising that the big hurdle to convince buyers to drive towards an EV future is what’s called “range anxiety” – the fear that your batteries will run dry and you’ll have no way to recharge – Jaguar Australia is spending up to A$4 million to build charging stations in our big cities.

More than 80% of Australians’ daily commutes are less than 50 kilometres, making them perfect for EVs, which would only need to be recharged once a week at that rate.

The NRMA is also funding a network of 41 fast-charging stations across NSW and the ACT, which it says will offer free charging to its members, and cover 95% of members’ road trips.

While car companies, and environmental and motoring organisations are right behind the push for EVs, with their zero emissions and lower service costs, Australian governments have been the reticent sticking point.

Many other countries offer huge incentives to buy EVs, like cash-back schemes that can lop as much as A$10,000 of the cost of buying one, access to bus lanes and free registration. Yet the Federal Government has so far refused to offer Australians a single enticement to go electric.

Leading into the South Australian state election earlier this year, the Labor government pledged it would waive stamp duty on the purchase of EVs, and provide free rego for five years, if it won the election, which would have been the first such move in the country. Sadly, they lost the election.