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EV sales begin to charge

Black box: Tesla does not report its sales figures in Australia but there is no doubt that its Model 3 is by far the biggest contributor to EV volume here.

Diesel sales plunge 23 per cent while EVs rise 66 per cent in same four-year period


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4 Oct 2021

AUSTRALIA may appear to have a long way to go to reach strong customer support for electric vehicles but the writing is on the wall if we share the example given in Europe.


Despite a falling new-car market driven primarily by the electronic chip shortage, COVID-19 restrictions and a general production downturn, European electric vehicle (EV) sales are going against the trend with a rise last month to the second-biggest monthly uptake ever.


JATO Dynamics reports that on the continent, EVs have had a year-on-year increase of 61 per cent and that 1.32 million of them have been sold in the eight months of this year.


EVs now have a market share in Europe of 21 per cent, kicked up by 151,737 new registrations in August.


Localised fuel shortages in Britain are also reportedly driving interest in electric alternatives, which could be reflected in sales results as this year draws to a close.


JATO global analyst Felipe Munoz said: “Although deals and incentives have played a significant part in boosting demand, we have seen a fundamental shift in buying habits as more appealing models have entered the market and consumers have become aware of the benefits attached to EVs.”


These two factors – incentives and a wide choice of models – are lacking in Australia and undoubtedly will continue to be the anchors to any rapid take-up of EVs here.


But although Australia is a fledgling EV nation, there are already signs of growing consumer confidence in EVs and an acceptance of their role as a practical commuter.


Data from VFACTS shows 5160 EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) have been sold in the first eight months of this year. This does not include more conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and RAV4.


But the numbers swell considerably when taking into account vehicles delivered by Tesla, which does not submit sales figures to VFACTS. 


It is estimated by the Australian Electric Vehicle Council that about 6500 Tesla vehicles have been sold in the eight months to August 31 (the graph includes estimated Tesla sales in Australia from 2004 to the end of August this year).


Looking at the period 2017 through to 2020, EV sales have quietly accelerated 66 per cent with 6900 sales last calendar year. This compares with only 292 sales nine years before.


At the same time, diesel sales have fallen 23 per cent despite the popularity of SUVs and particularly utes, both predominantly users of diesel fuel and the latter almost exclusively.


In the same four years, petrol-fuelled vehicle sales fell 31 per cent.


The winners have been electrified vehicles, especially hybrids. But it has been the growth of EVs and PHEVs that is significant.


Much of the sales growth is from Tesla and, specifically, its Model 3. EV sales do not attract a lot of attention because, as mentioned, Tesla doesn’t report its sales.


But the interest from consumers is important because Tesla’s success could be mirrored in other brands that import EVs. Companies including Hyundai and Kia see the merit, with the launch of models including the Ioniq and Niro soon to be followed by the Ioniq 5 and EV6.


There are also EV models from Jaguar (i-Pace), Volvo (XC40 Recharge), Audi (e-Tron), MG (ZS EV), Mazda (MX-30), Mini and Mercedes-Benz. Others are following, including a raft from BMW in the coming months. 


The speed of change is modest but customers remain interested, urged on by the current shortage of new vehicles that may have pushed some buyers towards a pure EV.


Along with that, publicity about a burgeoning network of charging stations instigated by state, federal and local governments is bringing the message home and helping to eradicate one of the EV’s downsides, range anxiety.

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