Australian EV sales up, but consumer choice still constrained

Red Tesla Model 3 against vast landscape (EV)
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The Electric Vehicle Council’s annual State of Electric Vehicles report has been released, finding that EVs are on track to more than double in 2023, while Australia continues to lag comparable nations on consumer choice until necessary policy reform is introduced.

EV sales have surged since last year, with more EVs sold in the first half of 2023 than in all of 2022. The report shows 46,624 EVs were sold from January to June 2023, translating to 8.4% of all new car sales in Australia being electric.

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The ACT continues to lead on EV sales as a proportion of new vehicle sales at 21.8%, followed by Tasmania (9.0%), New South Wales (9.0%), Victoria (8.5%), Queensland (7.7%), Western Australia (7.5%), South Australia (6.5%), and the Northern Territory (2.4%).

The report finds that although there has been growth in model choice, Australia’s EV market remains dominated by a few models, with the Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, and BYD Atto 3 representing 68.1% of Australia’s EV market.

This underscores the need for policies that can both increase sales volume and improve the variety of options available to consumers.

EVC CEO Behyad Jafari said the although the acceleration in EV sales was encouraging, Australia would never come close to catching up with the rest of the world under current policy settings.

“Australians now know the future of driving is electric and there’s growing enthusiasm for of all the benefits that will deliver,” Jafari said.

“While Australians have some high-quality options to choose from, it’s no surprise that the models that were most available had the highest sales. Many other brands simply sold out of their full allocation of vehicles sent to Australia.

“That’s because global carmakers are still only sending a trickle of the vehicles they produce to the Australian market, because we remain one of the few nations on earth without new vehicle efficiency standards.

“Our lack of new vehicle efficiency standards means car makers are essentially rewarded for sending their EVs to markets other than Australia. So small wonder we remain at the back of the queue.

“The EV models that lead the sales charts at the moment are terrific, but Australian consumers should have the same choices as drivers in other countries. If the Australian Government gets on with introducing strong new vehicle efficiency standards, we will see consumer choice expand rapidly.

“The good news for the federal government is that its initial policies are clearly working, and demand is sky high. By introducing globally competitive standards we can get the supply of EV options to match demand.”

Once again, the State of Electric Vehicles report assigns Australian governments a score out of 10 depending on their policies regarding electric vehicle uptake across all segments of vehicles.

The ACT and NSW lead with 9/10 ratings, while the Northern Territory and Tasmania lag with 4/10 ratings. Victoria receives a poor 5/10 rating due to the state governments confusing signals to the market, especially the premature introduction of an EV tax and its abrupt cancellation of incentives. The federal government scores 7/10, recognising the creation of a National EV policy, which had not occurred under the previous federal government.

“There’s really encouraging momentum across most of Australia on EV policy, but our report also finds there is abundant room for improvement,” Jafari said.

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“If Australia is any chance of hitting our 2040 emission targets governments will have to lift their game. Unless we rapidly speed up the electrification of Australia’s fleet, there is no way we can hit net zero in time.

“Our report also finds all jurisdictions are lagging on electric truck policy, meaning we are missing a crucial opportunity to decarbonise freight. Uptake of electric trucks are being held back by government regulatory barriers that were resolved overseas many years ago, like truck width and mass limits.”

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