Australia nears electric car milestone but trails peers

The number of electric vehicles on Australian roads is likely to race past 100,000 early this year, according to a new report, after almost doubling in 2022.

The Electric Vehicle Council study released on Tuesday shows more than 83,000 electric cars were being driven in Australia and the number of charging stations had soared by 44 per cent.

Despite the progress, industry experts said Australia’s electric vehicle adoption lagged the rest of the world and policy changes were urgently needed to get three million electric cars on the road by 2030.

The EV Council Industry Recap showed sales of electric vehicles rose by 86 per cent last year, making up 3.8 per cent of all new car sales.

Tesla dominated those figures, with its Model 3 and Model Y making up almost half of all sales, followed by vehicles from BYD, MG, Polestar, Hyundai and Volvo.

The analysis also showed the ACT leading the trend with 9.7 per cent of its new car sales being electric, followed by NSW and Victoria, which almost doubled their sales from 2021.

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said the figures showed “enthusiasm is there in abundance” to adopt the technology but warned policy changes were needed to help more drivers make the switch.

Mr Jafari said Australia would need to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2027 and three million by 2030 to reach its climate goals.

“If you think you’re seeing more EVs on the road than you used to, you’re right, but if we want to hit our national emissions targets we won’t make it on this current trajectory,” he said.

“We can definitely hit these goals but not without an ambitious fuel efficiency standard to expand the supply of EVs to Australia. The federal government should introduce this standard this year as a matter of urgency.”

Australia has a carbon emissions reduction target of 43 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030, and net-zero by 2050.

Swinburne University future urban mobility professor Hussein Dia said figures showed the “astonishing” growth for electric vehicles but also underlined that Australia joined the technology trend late compared to the rest of the world.

More than 15 per cent of all cars sold in New Zealand were electric last year, while China registered 19 per cent and world leader Norway 79 per cent.

“Australia’s growth is not as good a story as in overseas markets,” Mr Dia said.

“Once a fuel efficiency standard is available, it will send a very strong signal to car manufacturers, to fleet operators and it will have a roll-on effect just like in New Zealand and other markets.”

A fuel efficiency standard would set an emissions limit for cars across a brand’s fleet and introduce penalties for failing to meet it.

The policy is one of several being considered in the federal government’s National Electric Vehicle Strategy consultation paper, which closed to submissions in October last year.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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