1 Apr 20

Australia: EVs sales triple in 2019

In February, Australian’s “The Guardian” released an article titled: “Electric vehicle sales triple in Australia as sales of combustion engine cars fall 8%.” Amazing news, right? Australia has no incentives in place to subsidize consumers or corporates who want to buy or lease electrified vehicles and yet, the EV sales volumes increased by 208%. Well done, Australia.

Back to reality

There’s a “but”… Tripling EV volumes doesn’t mean much when only 6.718 EVs or 0.6% of total car sales were electric. Let’s put these figures in perspective and find out if the Australian consumers are really changing their behavior.

2019 total car sales are down 7.8% versus the 2018 figures and amounts at 1.062.867 units, which is a relatively high amount for a 24 million people country. Per 1000 people, Australia counts 775 motor vehicles, which is close the US vehicle penetration (802) and much higher than, let’s say, Germany (546). Even if the sales numbers are pretty high, the Australians are buying less cars year after year since 2017; everything indicates that 2020 will be no different, not only because of coronavirus or a risk of recession, but also because Australian salaries are not increasing and consumer confidence is low.

Which cars are popular?

Up until 2018, premium brands were more successful than mainstream brands in terms of relative growth, but this is taking a turn in 2020. Except for Alfa Romeo, most of the luxury brands are reporting major hits.

Australia loves Toyota (205.766 vehicles in 2019), likes Mazda very much (97.619 vehicles in 2019) and is fond of Hyundai (86.104 vehicles in 2019). Nothing exceptional for a country in Asia Pacific with high luxury taxes. It becomes more interesting when we look at the top 5 most popular models:

  1. Toyota HiLux - 47,649
  2. Ford Ranger - 40,690
  3. Toyota Corolla - 30,468
  4. Hyundai i30 - 28,378
  5. Mitsubishi Triton - 25,819

These are not only the 2019 figures, it’s a trend: Australians love pick-ups and SUVs. Sedans, that used to be popular when Holden and Ford were still producing locally, are, “if not dead, then dying” (journalist Andrew Chesterton in Carsguide.com.au).

Again, are EV sales doing well?

The real answer seems to be “no”. Australians are not inclined to buy EVs and are not incentivized. Government, especially the conservative voice in Australian politics, have politicized the EV matter and defend the ICE pick-up as the ultimate expression of being an Australian. Even plans to bring down the average emission down to 105 g/km (sales of new passenger cars), were rejected by the policy makers.

Looking into the EV car sales per make and model, the reason for the 208% increase becomes even more clear: one brand monopolized the EV segment and is responsible for 70% of EV sales. Australians might not be inclined to buy EVs, but they do like a Tesla.

Picture Credit: Shutterstock

Authored by: Yves Helven