The first electric vehicles arrived in Australia around 2011 to great fanfare. Back then we had the Mitsubishi iMiEV, the Nissan Leaf and the very occasional Tesla Roadster.

We then had to wait until 2014 to see the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S arrive … but on the flip side we had by then farewelled the Leaf, iMiEV and Roadster as new car offerings – despite the Leaf and iMiEV remaining on sale overseas.

Even by 2018, when I first began writing a set of publicly available EV model Fact Sheets (found at aeva.au/fact-sheets), only five full BEV (battery electric vehicle) models were available.

Those five were Renault’s Zoe and Kangoo, the BMW i3 and the Tesla Models S and X. By 2019 we may have only reached the dizzying heights of seven BEVs available for sale here, but enough were promised to justify creating a single page summary of their more important specifications.

Amusingly – that first summary page was not only single sided, it covered both BEVs and PHEVs (plug in hybrids) … including all those announced for arrival in the following 6 to 12 months!

Looking back now, like I did recently on my return trip between Melbourne to Sydney: it is amazing to see how far we have come since then and how the pace of the EV transition is quickening.

That original 2019 summary page has now split into three (BEV passenger vehicles, BEV light commercial vehicles and PHEVs) with the BEVs in particular barely fitting onto a double-sided page.

Interestingly, whilst the BEVs have expanded massively (in fact PHEVs outnumbered BEVs in that first summary listing) the PHEV page has been slower to expand.

So to 2023: how many BEVs are here now or coming soon compared to that first list in 2019? Well, a few have vanished (the Renault Zoe and the Tesla Models S and X), but the list of currently ‘available’ to order BEVs (I say ‘available’ advisedly, that order may not arrive till 2024) has reached around thirty-four, and another 17 due in the next 12 months.

These new ones include the Ioniq 6, the Fiat 500e, the MG4, the EV9, the Subaru Solterra, the VW ID.3, 4, and 5, the Ora Cat, the Lexus R450, the Peugeot e-2008, the Polestar 3, and others.

These do no includie variants such as standard/long range, 2WD/AWD or such things as the five Taycan variants.  But we can also expect the all-new model Kona and the possible return of the Tesla Models S and X.

When it comes to full battery Light Commercial vehicles (e-LCVs), Australia has to date been poorly served in comparison to overseas offerings, but this is changing.

In 2018 we had one (the Renault Kangoo electric) – and it suited only a limited number of businesses due to its small-ish battery, 7kW AC charging and no DC charging. (All three issues by the way are addressed by the new Kangoo e-tech coming soon).

However, by late last year seven were available and I had to split the e-LCVs out of the BEV list due to so many more being promised for 2023 and into 2024.

Now we have nine e-LCVs available(including people movers and small buses) with five more due in 2023 and a couple more already promised for 2024 – including (perhaps) the reborn VW Combi Van (now called the ID Buzz).

In fact, 2023 is shaping up to become Australia’s ‘Year of the e-LCV’. Overall, by the end of 2023 we may be well past fifty to sixty or more full battery electric passenger and light commercial vehicle offerings to choose from.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz
VW ID. BUZZ. IMAGE: VW.

With so many exciting new models and variants now either here or on our doorstep (like the Kia EV6 GT, Ioniq 6 passenger sedan or Ford e-Transit) we in fact are seeing EVs move into the various segments once solely occupied by ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles.

Finally, we will be seeing serious BEV options in most major Australian vehicle segments for buyers to be able to choose between ICE and BEV equivalents.

There are still a few segments where ICE will still reign supreme in 2024 though. The AWD off-roader for bush travel and heavy-duty towing has yet to arrive, but they do exist and are available elsewhere – like the Rivian R1T or the Ford F150 Lightning.

Same for the tradie ute: only one very expensive option is here so far (the LDV eT60), but several manufacturers are rumoured to have them coming in the next 12 to 18 months – which may also put some downward pressure on the rather stratospheric price the eT60 is currently sitting at!

By mid 2024, even the Mercedes G Wagon will be available in Europe as a full-electric offering. (Although it might be a good while after that before we see it here).

Rivian R1T
RIVIAN R1T. IMAGE: RIVIAN.

All-up, the EV transition here may have been slow to begin with, but 2023 is looking to become the turning point where all Australians realise that the electric vehicle has well and truly arrived.

The key now as to whether that transition happens even faster is whether the manufacturers will start to bring them here in more than the token numbers that we are currently subject to for most models.

That in part depends on the imminent national fuel quality and vehicle emission standards – which are rumoured to include both strong requirements and proper enforcement teeth.

If they do have these, we may suddenly see the floodgates crack open just a little bit further due to the manufacturers having both carrots to induce them to bring more here, as well as sticks to punish any recalcitrant manufacturers intent on selling ICE and/or mild hybrids only.

Extracted in full from: Australia’s choice of electric car models has jumped from 5 to 50 in just five years (thedriven.io)

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