Electric dreams

Despite a tripling in the number of electric vehicles sold in Australia in 2021, the surge in domestic demand is being held back by inadequate supply, a new report from the Electric Vehicle Council has found.

The leading preference was the Tesla Model 3, which accounted for 60 percent of electric vehicles sold.

But in the Osborne Park Tesla showroom, the in-demand model is sold out for the next nine months, leaving a long list of buyers ready but waiting. 

Tesla’s Osborne Park showroom has sold out its full allocation of Model 3 Tesla’s until the end of December. Photo: Angela Ho.

It comes after this week’s Federal Budget delivered temporary relief to Australians through fuel excise tax cuts, but remained silent on measures supporting a transition away from petrol and diesel vehicles. 

Curtin University Professor of Sustainability Peter Newman says the lack of federal leadership in incentivising electric vehicle uptake is a key part of why Australia remains an unattractive market for global carmakers. 

“The reality is that 50 percent of people interviewed by RAC want to get an electric vehicle if it was cheaper,” he says.

“That’s the market and it should be being facilitated by governments, not subsidising oil to keep people in their gas guzzling vehicles.”

Curtin University Professor of Sustainability Peter Newman

According to the State of Electric Vehicles report, Australia sold 20,665 plug-in electric vehicles last year, up from 6,900 in 2020. 

But that increase represents only 2 percent of total cars sold being electric, compared to market shares in European markets of 15 percent. 

According to the Electric Vehicle Council, Australia remains the only developing economy without government-mandated fuel efficiency standards.

EVA chief executive Behyad Jafari says while he’s optimistic about the interest in electric vehicle uptake, the growth needs to be supplemented by government-led policies. 

 “I like to say that the most important thing about a plan is to have a plan,” he says. 

“I’d like to see a government that is so very ambitious about our ability to shift towards electric vehicles, and I think the elements of that plan are quite straightforward, because we are so far behind the rest of the world. We know what works already.”

Mr Jafari says a combination of short-term incentives to make vehicles more price affordable and supply-side policies requiring global car manufacturers to bring the electric vehicles into Australia will be key to supporting a transition towards cleaner on-road alternatives.

Buying a Tesla remains a dream for now as prospective buyers wait out the nine-month queue for their turn in the electric vehicle market. Photo: Angela Ho.

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