Australians considering buying a new electric car have fewer options than motorists in the United States, Europe and the UK – and that hinders the use of electric vehicles in those countries.
In the UK, consumers can choose from 33 basic models. That number grew to 39 in the European Union, while across the Atlantic shoppers were spoiled for choice with 43 models made by 26 different manufacturers for sale.
Each model comes with various variations in battery power, range, body type, or engine modification.
Australia, meanwhile, is limited to only 29 base models.
The Guardian calculates the base models available in the US, UK and Europe and compares them to those available in Australia using data from car comparison sites. Battery electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) are counted as separate vehicles even though they are the same model. Variants on the same model are not included, as are vans, trucks and other heavy vehicles.
Behyad Jafari, chief executive of the Electric Vehicles Council, said Australians paid the price for the federal government’s lack of ambition. And with state governments like Victoria looking to introduce new tax on electric vehicles, he said Australia was “an aberration”.
“The EV market acceleration is happening,” said Jafari. “We spend a lot of time here in Australia talking about how in the coming years the price of electric cars will go down. In fact the price went down, it’s just not brought here, because we don’t have a policy.
“A global auto company looks at every other market in the world and sees that consumers are getting financial support to buy EVs and that there is an increased cost to run a petrol vehicle. Australia doesn’t have this, and that’s why we missed it.
“Australia looks basically weird.”
With governments in the US, Europe and China introducing policies to encourage the use of electric vehicles and make running an internal combustion engine (ICE) more expensive, a transition is under way.
In 2020, 1.25m electric cars are sold in China, 395,000 are sold in Germany and 328,000 in America. This includes BEV and PHEV vehicles.
In most cases, producer have seen the writing on the wall.
Volkswagen announced in 2017 that it would spend billions of dollars refurbishing its plants to make electric vehicles. Luxury carmaker Jaguar plans to switch to electric by 2025. Volvo wants to achieve this by 2030, while General Motors aims to complete the transition by 2035.
Even those who haven’t announced ambitious plans are starting to join the trend, with Ford bringing out the electric Mustang to challenge Tesla for market share in the high-end.
According to analysts at McKinsey, there are 143 models electric vehicles worldwide in 2019. By 2022, that number is expected to explode including an additional 450 models – giving consumers an unprecedented choice.
Australia, however, is likely to miss much of this new model due to a lack of policies – a situation that has resulted in the country being targeted as being landfill for petrol vehicles which are increasingly difficult to sell elsewhere.
“These are carrots and sticks,” said Jafari. “There is a huge list of policies you can run, but the most important are consumer financial incentives and CO2 standards on your light vehicle fleet.
“Without those two things, you will not get a market. Things like infrastructure replenishment – they thrive in your market as demand increases.
“So far, we have not done anything and here it feels like doing nothing is normal, when in fact it is not. When everyone is doing something, doing nothing is an option. “