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E for eager: Drivers jumping on Electric Vehicle (EV) bandwagon

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Electric vehicles, EVs, electric cars – no matter what you call them, it’s hard to ignore that Australians are mad for non-petrol or diesel-guzzling transport alternatives. 

Sales of the popular eco-friendly vehicles soared 120% this year, and that’s just at the halfway mark. 

In fact, from January to June 8.4% of all new car sales in Australia were electric, compared to just 3.8% for the whole of 2022. 

Almost 50,000 EVs have been sold across the nation since we ticked over into 2023, with an estimated 130,000 EVs now being driven on Australian roads. 

Compare that to last year’s total of 33,410, just 3.1% of the total new-car market. 

Electric vehicle charging.

So, what’s all the fuss? 

According to the National EV Strategy Framework, light vehicles make up around 62% of transport emissions. 

Heavy vehicles such as trucks, buses and rail, make up a further 26%.  

Australia has a goal of reducing its emissions 43% by 2030, and net zero by 2050. 

EV supporters believe all drivers must embrace efforts to decarbonise transport segments by steering away from fuel-based vehicles. 

Types of EVs  

There are currently two types of electric vehicles on Australian roads; BEVs, or battery-electric vehicles, are the most common, currently representing more than 90% of the market (109,000) and PHEVs, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which feature twice in the top 15 makes and models and represent 21,000 of the EVs on our roads. 

Makes and Models 

Tesla still holds top spot in Australia, with the Tesla Model Y accounting for 30% of all EV sales. 

The brand currently valued at $90 billion and boasting Elon Musk as its largest shareholder, makes up the majority of Australia’s EV sales. 

Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, and BYD Atto 3, represent more than 68% of the country’s EV market. 

Top 5 most sold EVs in Australia 2023 

Tesla Model Y – 14,002 

Tesla Model 3 – 11,575 

BYD Atto 3 – 6,196 

MG ZS EV – 1,787 

Volvo XC40 – 1,596 

An electric vehicle charging station has been installed at Lake Macquarie City Council, Speers Point.

State by State 

In 2022, the Australian Government introduced a fringe-benefit tax (FBT) exemption for EVs to encourage sales. 

The incentive meant EVs could be purchased as fleet vehicles and through salary sacrifice arrangements. 

The government also removed import duty for EVs made in certain countries, namely the UK and Europe. 

The number of Australians cashing in on the savings vary from state-to-state, with ACT leading Australia with 21.8% of all its new cars being EVs. 

Tasmania and NSW are next in line with 9%, followed closely by Victoria at 8.5%, Queensland 7.7%, WA 7.5%, SA 6.5% and NT at just 2.4%. 

Local Figures

The popularity of electric vehicles has most certainly reached the Hunter region.

Earlier this year, Transport for NSW vehicle data showed hybrid and electric cars made up more than 2% of all passenger vehicles registered across the five Lower Hunter LGAs.

Numbers had in fact jumped 16% in the six months to 30 April, with 7,030 hybrid and 1,270 electric cars now on local roads.

Emissions 

It is arguably environmental factors that has driven the initial investment in EVs among Australian consumers. 

With wars raging overseas, threatening oil prices and fueling import fears, many Australians are no doubt seeking ways to play a part in diverting current environment woes within our shores. 

Electric vehicles are being touted as a measurable means to reduce carbon emissions. 

Although these most recent sales figures are encouraging, in order for Australia to achieve its climate targets, it is expected that more than 50% of all new cars sold in 2030 will need to be EVs.  

This means Australia will need to aim for around 1 million EVs on our roads by the end of 2027. 

Australia lags behind  

While its obvious we’ve been sold on the idea that we’re saving the planet by purchasing an electric vehicle that costs more than my annual wage, we’re still lagging behind a number of other countries. 

Norway currently leads the way, with 90% of its car sales electric vehicles. 

Sweden, Netherlands and China are not far behind. 

Even Thailand recently nudged past Australia, with our 8.3% EV sales figures far below the 22% global average. 

What’s next? – Electric heavy vehicles 

The Electric Vehicle Council, the national body representing the electric vehicle industry in Australia, has spoken out about why progress in the EV realm is slow in Australia. 

“Unfortunately, the local adoption of heavy EVs, including buses and trucks, is still lagging – in large part due to a lack of regulatory reform by government to enable uptake.  

“While there is strong interest from industry to make the switch to electric heavy vehicles, this transition is being held back by a lack of suitable vehicles.  

“This is a result of Australian Government’s imposing restrictive vehicle mass and width requirements that increase costs and limit the range of electric buses and trucks that can be sold in Australia.  

“Without immediate action, the decarbonisation of Australia’s 800,000 buses and trucks will continue to be delayed, leaving consumers paying more for goods, and communities breathing in more vehicle pollution.” 

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