Australian motorists are fed up with rising fuel costs and are looking for new rides that will save them lots of money in the long run.
New car buyers are responding to rising fuel prices by ditching gas guzzlers in favour of green cars.
Used car classifieds and new car sales staff are reporting a dramatic increase in queries from customers looking to switch from petrol to more efficient hybrid, or even electric power.
The national average petrol price has climbed by nearly 50 per cent since 2020, rising from 123.4 cents per litre to 183.9 cents last week, according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum.
Independent websites list the real-world price as closer to $2.10 per litre as the fuel industry responds to price pressures brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sales of hybrid and electric cars in the first two months of 2022 have increased by 69 per cent compared to 2020.
Experts expect that number to climb further.
Gumtree Australia Spokesperson, Dan Pugh, said the company recorded a dramatic change in buyer behaviour as fuel prices spiked in recent weeks.
“At the beginning of March, we saw an all-time high in searches for electric cars, which coincided with the lowest search volume for petrol cars we’ve seen in almost a year,” Mr Pugh said.
“There is a clear difference between the number of searches before and after the 24th of February.
Searches on Gumtree for electric cars skyrocketed 68 per cent in the first week of March compared to the week before.”
Searches for thirsty six-cylinder cars dropped by 22 per cent between February 25 and March 4, when Gumtree recorded a 30 per cent drop in V8 queries.
Peter Gee, founder of car brokerage business Motor Scout, said there was “a big increase” in the number of customers looking to swap from a regular vehicle to a new hybrid or electric vehicle.
“Comparing the inquiries we’ve had for the first half of March compared the first half of February, hybrid queries have increased by 62 per cent,” Mr Gee said.
General Manager of car valuation bible Redbook, Ross Booth, said it would take a while for a definite trend to emerge, but fuel use was already one of the key drivers for new-car buyers.
“People aren’t going to sell today and buy tomorrow. And you have to factor in our obsession with SUVs and utes. But you may see more people going for an EV or hybrid for their next buying decision,” he said.
Although buyers would be attracted by the fuel savings offered by EVs, there were still prohibitively expensive to buy.
“A lot of people just don’t care about fuel efficiency. For them a car is a lifestyle choice,” he said.
“Electric queries have increased by 160 per cent. That’s a big increase, it’s a huge difference.”
Tradies behind the wheel of popular utes have been hit by an average diesel price increasing from 126.9 cents in 2020 to 183.3 cents per litre last week. Price monitoring services such as Fuel Check list the current average price of diesel at close to 220 cents.
Drivers clocking up 500 kilometres per week of urban driving in Australia’s most popular new cars, the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, can expect to spend an extra $50 per week on fuel as annual bills rise from about $3500 to $6000.
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said “wildly unpredictable” price fluctuations were almost unprecedented.
“The prices have been so volatile in the last two months, we’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
“That is going to have a profound effect on a number of industries.
“Businesses can’t sustain those cost increases for an extended period. Eventually they are going to pass them on. There’s no doubt these prices are hurting a lot of people.”
There are no hybrid or electric utes on sale in Australia, though that is expected to change in coming years.
Hybrid car sales in Australia are led by Toyota’s RAV4, a family SUV that attracts year-long waiting lists. Sales of Toyota hybrid models surpassed the total deliveries of Ford, Hyundai, VW and other manufacturers in February.
The RAV4 uses 4.7 litres of regular unleaded for every 100 kilometres of driving, far less than rival machines that require more expensive premium petrol. It offers similar performance to Volkswagen’s turbocharged Tiguan 162TSI, but costs about half as much to run.
Rival companies are preparing to take on the bestseller with new hybrid family cars from Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Renault, Haval and other brands slated for introduction.
Toyota Australia vice president Sean Hanley said the manufacturer expects “a rapid increase in sales”, building on a record 7500 hybrid deliveries last month.
“People who buy Toyota hybrids get an immediate benefit to their hip pockets with fewer trips to the petrol station, saving millions of dollars a year in aggregate,” he said.
“Our hybrid-electric vehicles are affordable, they’re available in substantial numbers, they’re convenient with no range anxiety and they’re practical.”
Tesla’s Model 3 is the most popular electric car in Australia, attracting more than 1000 customers per month. The manufacturer says customers should expect to wait up to nine months to receive new orders.
This year’s order books for the electric Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 are full.
Extracted in full from: Australian drivers to ditch thirsty petrol cars for hybrids, electric cars | Daily Telegraph