One in four new vehicles sold in Canberra this year were battery electric, with the ACT recording the fastest acceleration of zero emission sales per capita in the country this year.

More than 1000 battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations were added from January 1 to April 17, with total ACT registrations of BEVs jumping from the previous high mark of 3000 in January 1, to 4002 in just under 15 weeks.

While most of the vehicles were new sales – fresh-off-the-ship Teslas, Polestars and BYD Atto 3s, or MG EVs sold conventionally by the McGrath dealer group – other contributors were the “pre-loved” grey imports from Japan sold here as more affordable, low-mileage alternatives.

The uptake curve has steepened dramatically in 2023, with the ACT acknowledged in this week’s national EV strategy as providing Australia’s highest level of incentives. It took the ACT 12 months to jump from 1000 to 2000 total BEV sales, and a further eight months to climb from 2000 to 3000.

Cate Cool, of Gordon, recently switched out of her internal combustion SUV into the near-silent, zero-emission transport provided by a Chinese-made BYD Atto 3 and said it was only a matter of time before the family’s second combustion vehicle, a Mitsubishi Outlander, also made way for another electric vehicle.

However, the greatest impediment was choice – or more specifically, a lack of it.

“Our choice worked out well but it would definitely be nice to have a wider choice: more brands, more styles, more models,” she said.

“We almost settled on a Tesla and then we heard the BYDs were coming so we held off and had to go through a lot of hassle just get a test drive.

“But the price and the packaging turned out to suit us better because there’s a surprising amount of room in the back seat, and good boot space, too.”

She loves all the various parking and assist and safety features, and her children enjoy the onboard technology, such as changing the interior lighting “mood” settings.

Range anxiety has struck a few times, and always on a long trip.

“It would be a worry if I was on my own, at night, with the kids in the car and the charge level just dropped away like that.”

The surge in BEV demand is unlike any new transport segment rush experienced across the industry in decades, drawing in customers with uncertainties and a raft of unresolved questions about the product they bought online and has now landed in their driveway.

Warwick Cathro, from the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA), said that product knowledge within the fast-growing BEV owner pool ranged from the “very informed” to “limited”.

“This is a new space for a lot of people; our online discussion forums are very busy, there are always plenty of questions and much debate happening,” Mr Cathro said.

“There are people who ordered a BEV months and months ago and all of a sudden, they’ve taken delivery and it’s a very new ownership experience.

“We can see from the various forums there are still people who are a bit puzzled about things like the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt-hour, the best apps to use to navigate between recharging stations, and how to best harness their regenerative braking.”

As a pilot program, the association will hold a free BEV workshop at the Woden Library on Saturday, April 29.

Across the country, Australians bought 7866 battery electric medium-sized cars in the first quarter – up from 2988 in the previous quarter. BEV sales in the large car category have more than quadrupled, quarter on quarter.

Extracted in full from: The ACT has plugged into electric vehicles faster than anywhere in the country | The Canberra Times | Canberra, ACT