The popularity of new electric vehicles (EV) and hybrids among Australian buyers has taken a hit year-on-year, new VFACTS figures reveal.

In the private passenger car segment, there were drops in both electric vehicle and hybrid sales in 2016 compared to the previous year.

There were 65 EVs sold in this segment last year compared to 220 EVs sold in 2015 – a 69% drop.

Hybrid vehicles saw more of a gradual decline of 4% with 2588 sales in 2016, down on the 2697 sold in 2015.

In the non-private passenger car segment, sales dipped from 145 EVs in 2015 down to 101 in 2016 – a 30% drop year-on-year.

Sales of EVs in the private SUV segment dropped a massive 92%, with just seven vehicles sold in 2016 compared with 92 in 2015.

Hybrid SUV sales in this segment also dipped 21% from 1152 in 2015 to 840 in 2016.

A huge drop in electric SUVs was recorded in the non-private segment, with just 42 vehicles sold in 2016, compared with 661 in 2015 – a surprising decrease of 93%.

However, on a positive note, hybrid SUVs and passenger cars both recorded increases in the non-private segment.

Hybrid SUVs in the non-private segment saw a rise of 25% with 1148 sold in 2016 compared to 914 in 2015.

And hybrid passenger car sales increased 9% in the non-private segment, with 8049 vehicles sold in 2016.

Why are sales dropping?

Australia’s slow uptake of EVs has been linked to consumer preferences, the low price of oil and a lack of infrastructure.  But for the average family, a major factor continues to be price.

Three major manufacturers producing EVs on the Australian market include Nissan which prices its EVs at around $55,000, BMW at about $70,000 and Tesla from $130,000.

However, the newest Tesla Model 3, due for release by the end of this year, is touted to be more affordable at approximately $47,500.

With EV sales dropping off, Nissan and Mitsubishi have stopped stocking electric hatchbacks, the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMiev, because the company struggled to move them even after slashing prices.

The first electric car sold in Australia, the Mitsubishi iMiev, is no longer in showrooms.

Additionally, the Nissan Leaf is now available via special order only, as sales slow to a trickle.

Hybrids, using a mixture of petrol and electricity, have proven more popular, particularly in the business world.

A good example is the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which has become a popular model for taxi fleets because they are easy to run in stop-start traffic.

In sharp contrast, more than 363,000 diesel vehicles were sold in Australia last year, an increase of 8.6%.

Petrol-powered cars, however, still dominate the market, with more than 768,000 sold last year.

Government mulls new fuel, emissions regulations

Car buyers will be exposed to a new debate about fuel this year as the Federal Government considers whether or not Australia’s fuel quality should be brought up to the same standards as other developed countries.

The government wants to mandate cleaner cars but the car industry says it can’t introduce its latest clean tailpipe technology on Australia’s low quality fuel.

Regular unleaded sold in Australia is allowed to contain 150 parts per million of sulphur but fuel in the US, Japan and Europe must not exceed 10 parts per million of sulphur.

The petrol lobby says it can improve the quality of Australia’s fuel but that will come at a cost to the driver.

Extracted from Auto Talk.