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Interest in electric vehicles is soaring in Australia with arrival of Tesla Model 3
Posted on September 23, 2019 by Charles Morris
Consumer interest in electric vehicles is rapidly growing Down Under. The latest report from Aussie EV industry group the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) describes major increases in the number of consumers that are researching and/or considering buying EVs.
Above: A fleet of Tesla vehicles (Photo: Casey Murphy, EVANNEX)
According to the new report, State of EVs in Australia 2019, EV sales figures for the first half of the year are 90% higher than for the same period in 2018. The choice of plug-in models available is steadily increasing, from 22 as of August 2019 to an expected 31 by the end of 2020. The availability of public charging infrastructure has increased by over 140% over the last year - the country now has some 1,930 charging stations.
Perhaps most important for the future of Australian EVs, consumer awareness appears to be on the rise. In an EVC survey of 1,939 Australians, 100% of respondents said they were aware of electric vehicles, and 45% said they had done some research into EVs - more than double the 19% who said so in the 2017 survey.
Above: Consumer attitudes towards EV ownership (Source: Electric Vehicle Council)
The number of people currently studying EVs with an intention to buy more than tripled in the last year, jumping from 1.8% in the 2018 report to 6% this year. Survey respondents cited the higher price of electric vehicles and range anxiety as the top barriers to purchase. However, almost half said they would consider buying an EV in the current market, and 70% said they might buy if the purchase price were the same as that of a legacy vehicle.
The report notes that bringing costs down to that level depends on falling battery costs and/or government policy. There is “international evidence that government policy can have an impact on consumer decision-making,” yet Australia offers little support for EV adoption.
Above: EV benefits most important to Australians (Source: Electric Vehicle Council)
The current Coalition federal government, which was returned to power in the recent election, has said it will not release an EV strategy until mid-2020. The party’s campaign in the latest election featured some nonsensical anti-EV tirades - Prime Minister Scott Morrison characterized EVs as a threat to Australians’ outdoorsy way of life.
As is the case in the US, individual Australian states have been more supportive of EV adoption. Although none have introduced financial incentives or targets, they have invested in public charging networks (including the Queensland Electric Superhighway, and the ARENA-backed Chargefox and Evie networks).
Above: A look at the arrival of the Tesla Model 3 in Australia and some reactions in the local media (YouTube: Nine News Australia)
Australia has been a laggard in EV uptake - just 2,216 EVs - not including Tesla models - were sold in 2018. However, this is changing. EV sales in the first half of 2019 were 90% higher than the entire number sold in 2018, and all indications are that sales continue to grow.
Tesla Model 3 deliveries began in early September. Although there's no hard sales figures yet, Tesla delivery staff told techAU that the company is working through “thousands” of orders (via The Driven). Subsequent reports state the number is 2,414 which would "put the Tesla Model 3 in the ranks of the top ten, and maybe even the top five for new car sales in Australia for the month."