What are Australia’s electric vehicle options in 2019?

New electric vehicles strategy falls short says EVC.Australia's Electric Vehicle Council

If you’re wondering about your Australian electric vehicle options,  just remember that it’s much cheaper to run an EV than a petrol-powered car.

Comparing the two, the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) found that petrol can cost anything from $1.30 to $1.55 per litre. An EV runs at around $0.33 per eLitre.

The eLitre represents the cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar vehicle that runs on petrol. For example, if petrol costs $1.60 a gallon in your state and the eLitre price for your state is $0.35, that means that for $0.35 worth of electricity you can drive the same distance as you would for $1.60 worth of petrol.

Yet it’s not that simple to make the switch. There are only a few electric cars currently on the market in Australia and, up to now, these have been prohibitively expensive. Also, as well as the actual EV options, the EV charging options are also limited in number.

EVC wants 50 per cent EV sales by 2030

Many would-be EV drivers also suffer from ‘range anxiety’. That’s the fear of running out of puff miles from anywhere and not a charging station within coo-ee.

Perhaps that’s why EVs, at the end of 2018 still made up only a fraction of Australia’s new car sales. Yet technology is constantly improving. More and faster charging stations are also being built around the nation.

In fact, the EVC wants 50 per cent EV sales in Australia by 2030 – and it’s calling on the Federal Government to introduce an EV sales target to achieve it.

More than two million Australian households now have solar installations. This means EV owners can also charge their cars at home using solar power. Those with solar batteries like Tesla Powerwall 2 or Enphase can even charge their cars overnight.

What EV options currently exist for me?

Let’s take a look at the EV models now for sale on the Australian market.

If money’s no object, and you can afford prices north of $100,000 or so you’re in luck. You can take your pick from deluxe EV models like the sporty BMW i8, Mercedes-Benz E350 and the Audi A3 e-tron.

The Tesla Model S boasts a range of around 480 km and top speed of 190 km/h. However, it also retails at close to $100,000 in Australia. So, it’s still a wish-list item for many motorists rather than a realistic option.

Most of us, however, are forced to select our cars from a more lowly price range. And this has been the major barrier to popular uptake of electric cars in Australia.

It doesn’t help that the Federal Government has refused to take the lead on EV technology. We remain one of the only developed countries in the world with no direct EV incentives in place.

EV options increasing in Australia.

More electric charging stations are being built in Australia to meet growing public demand.

Electric cars – EV options at the cheaper end of the range 

However, the following pure electric cars are available in Australia at a retail price of $50,000-$55,000.

  • Hyundai IONIQ Electric. New EV featuring 88 kW electric motor and 28 kWh battery.
  • Nissan Leaf. Four-door hatch with 40 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
  • Mitsubishi MiEV. Small car featuring 49 kW electric motor and 150km range.
  • Renault Zoe. Five-seater car with 65 kW electric motor and 300km range.
  • Renault Kangoo. Two-seater with 75 kW electric motor and 200km range.

The Hyundai IONIQ Electric took the mantle of cheapest electric car in Australia when launched in December 2018.

Retailing at around $50,000, the Korean-made EV won critics’ approval with quiet driving, great acceleration and range of around 230 km.

Hybrid models

Hybrid models featuring dual electric and fuel-powered engines may offer drivers a more accessible ‘transition’ car. Two other IONIQ models also fit the bill here, offering the latest advances.

  • IONIQ Hybrid. Running mainly on petrol, simultaneous use of engine and motor boosts fuel efficiency. Retailing from $23,500.
  • IONIQ Plug-In Hybrid. Combined electric battery and conventional 1.6L petrol engine achieve output of 104 kW. The petrol engine then kicks in on longer journeys. Retailing from $26,000.

Toyota Prius, Camry and Corolla models also sit within the $25,000 to $36,000 price range.