Australian sales of electric cars have risen at record levels in the past six months amid state government incentives as the industry forecasts greater price parity and consumer choice over the next 24 months.
New car sales data released on Monday shows 8688 battery and plug-in EVs have been sold in the first half of 2021, which is more than in any calendar year. Since last year, six more models under $65,000 have been launched in the Australian market, bringing the total available under that price to 14.
The figures, revealed in the Electric Vehicle Council’s state of the industry report, show new car sales in the first six months of this year have already eclipsed the 6900 sold in Australia last year, which was 2.7 per cent up from the previous year.
The report found Australians now have access to 31 passenger electric vehicle models from 12 different carmakers with the industry forecasting an additional 27 electric vehicle models entering the market by the end of next year. Industry experts predict full manufacturing cost parity with combustion engine cars by 2025 at the latest.
It also reveals there are now more 3000 public chargers installed across Australia – courtesy of increased taxpayer and private investment – at more than 1650 locations, representing a ratio of 7.2 electric vehicles for every installed public charger.
Industry warns the figure provides insight into the commercial realities facing public charging operators without significant electric vehicle sales growth.
Many of the world’s leading economies have pledged to begin a transition away from petrol and diesel cars as they strive to hit key emissions reductions targets under the Paris Agreement and head toward net zero by 2050.
Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said the public discussion about the technology had “come a long way quite quickly” considering the fierce debate at the 2019 federal election.
He said a suite of new state-based policies to accelerate the uptake of zero emissions vehicles, particularly the $500 million package from NSW, had the whole industry “buoyant” about the effect it will have on electric vehicle availability and sales.
“The movement across most states and territories is now generally positive and that’s providing greater confidence to private sector investors, which will pave the way for more places to charge and better services to support e-mobility,” he said.
Victoria has set a sales target of 50 per cent new vehicles to be zero emissions by 2030 while NSW announced an electric vehicle strategy to increase sales to 53 per cent by 2030-2031. Both states and several others have also introduced financial rebates of up to $3000 for new electric vehicle purchases while some jurisdictions will waive stamp duty and registration fees.
The federal government has been heavily criticised by carmakers and advocacy groups for its refusal to set targets in the sector and previous public ridicule of the technology. It last year ruled out subsidising new cars to incentivise widespread uptake.
Government modelling found subsidies for battery electric vehicles was not value-for-money for taxpayers and was an expensive form of abatement and is optimistic that the total cost of ownership gap between EVs and internal combustion engine vehicles will close in the coming years.
Prices continue to drop, with Hyundai introducing three models under $48,000 in the past year, and MG and Nissan offering another three models under $50,000.
The latest data reflects the global trend as electric car sales rose by around 140 per cent in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2020, driven by sales in China of around 500,000 vehicles and in Europe of around 450,000. US sales more than doubled relative to the first-quarter of 2020.
Despite the jump domestically, representing 1.57 per cent of the total light vehicle market, Australia sits significantly behind the rest of the world in electric vehicle adoption.
Greenhouse gas emissions within the transport sector represent almost 20 per cent of Australia’s annual totals with carbon levels from the automotive sector around half of that figure. Drastically reducing emissions in the sector is viewed as critical if the nation is to achieve a 26 to 28 per cent decrease from 2005 levels by 2030.
Mr Jafari said the nation needed to see more electric vehicle models available domestically, particularly at lower price points.
“That’s happening slowly, but if we want to accelerate the process and attract the globally limited electric vehicle supply, we need policies enacted at the national level, like fuel efficiency standards.”
Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said the government had committed more than $1.4 billion to help increase the uptake of low and zero emissions vehicle technologies.
“These increasing EV and hybrids sales shows Australians are already making the choice to embrace future fuel technologies,” Mr Taylor said.
“While industry works to make more electric vehicle models available and more affordable, the Morrison government is getting on with the important work of delivering the infrastructure that’s needed to support Australians who want to buy and drive an EV.”
Most global carmakers, including Mazda, Nissan, General Motors and Ford in Europe have now set timelines to phase out petrol and diesel cars and become 100 per cent electric starting from 2030 out to 2035.
The report forecasts that by 2025, Audi will have 30 electric vehicle models available globally, Hyundai will have 23 models, the Renault group will have 24 models, and GM will have 30 models. Volkswagen will have 70 new electric models available by 2028, it said.
Extracted from The Sydney Morning Herald