Australia's transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is gaining momentum, but regional variations in adoption rates underscore the challenges that lie ahead. While Sydney's affluent northern beaches, inner suburbs, and Parramatta are leading in EV uptake in New South Wales (NSW), Melbourne's well-heeled inner-eastern suburb Toorak appears to be lagging behind in Victoria. Queensland's metropolitan areas, including Greater Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Moreton Bay, are embracing EVs, but rural regions in the state are slower to follow suit.
The proliferation of EVs on Australian roads witnessed a doubling in numbers last year and even tripling in certain neighborhoods. This trend has continued into the current year as global supply chain pressures eased. The Australian Automobile Association reports that during the three months leading up to June 30, one in five light vehicles sold in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) were electric. Similarly, NSW and Victoria saw rates of 8.7% and 9.7%, respectively.
In the first half of 2023, more than 8% of new cars sold, totaling around 46,000, were EVs. This marks a 120% increase compared to the entire previous year. The growth in demand is evident quarter-on-quarter, with a 21% increase in NSW, a substantial 117% surge in Victoria, and a 23% rise in Queensland.
However, while progress is promising, the overall number of registered EVs remains significantly below the levels required to achieve crucial emissions reduction targets in the upcoming years. The highest EV penetration is seen in Canberra, where approximately 1% of registered light vehicles are battery EVs, and an additional 3% are hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles. This stands in contrast to around 96% of vehicles powered by petrol or diesel.
As of January 31, 2023, EV penetration rates were 0.41% in NSW, 0.39% in Victoria, and 0.37% in Queensland.
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen acknowledged the positive trajectory Australia is on but emphasized the substantial gap that still exists in catching up to global standards. Bowen highlighted the future impact of increased fleet EV sales on the second-hand market, predicting a significant boost in EV affordability. The government's recent electric vehicle tax cut, which removes the fringe benefit tax on EVs leased under salary sacrifice arrangements, is also expected to contribute to the growth of the affordable second-hand EV market in the coming years.
Despite the progress, the Electric Vehicle Council points out that the majority of EV sales, around 68%, are concentrated in a few models like the Tesla Model Y and Model 3, along with the BYD Atto 32. The Council attributes this to the absence of a new vehicle efficiency standard in Australia, which could compel car manufacturers to increase EV supply to the country.
In conclusion, while Australia's EV adoption is showing promising growth, regional disparities highlight the need for comprehensive policies and incentives to ensure a more widespread and accelerated transition to electric vehicles.