Car buyers researching their next ride are weighing up the grunt of a combustion engine utility or the benefits of jumping onto the electric vehicle (EV) trend, according to sales data.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data shows of the 82,137 vehicles delivered to Australia in April, 8 per cent of those were EVs.

The Ford Ranger utility, which has a combustion engine, was the highest-selling model with 3,567 sales, while Tesla’s EV Model Y came in fourth place with 2,095 sales.

The hybrid Toyota RAV4, a middle ground for those waiting for improvements to the EV charging grid and battery storage, sat in third place.

According to the industry group’s data, 33,713 EV vehicles were sold in Australia last year, with New South Wales leading the way with 11,098 sales, followed by Victoria with 10,000.

We speak to three people to find out why they have, or have not, joined the EV trend.

Fleet of electric vehicles

Nickolas Frederiksen has four Tesla electric vehicles — two Model 3 and two Model Y vehicles — to bring his lease fleet to six.

He is also helping two friends to lease out their Tesla electric vehicles.

A man smiles in the reflection of a side mirror
Nick Frederiksen is leasing out EV vehicles.()

“In my mind, it’s not a green thing, it’s at least for the business side of things, a more capitalistic view and so the numbers make more sense,” Mr Frederiksen says.

“From a money point of view, I’ll pay less to get a car that will last longer, as in up to 1 million kilometres. So that’s 3,000 cycles of the battery on those ones.

“So, 110,000 kilometres a year is totally fine. For a normal, internal combustion car, maybe three or four years of doing that and it’s near the end of life. But with this, it’s only a third of its life.”

With another Model Y on the way, Mr Frederiksen sees himself at the start of the adoption curve where he can capitalise on popular electric vehicles as they get cheaper, and advances are made in technology to build up an autonomous taxi fleet.

A man its in the driver's seat of a car smiling at a camera
Nick Frederiksen is helping two friends to also lease out their Tesla electric vechiles.()

Electric vehicle as family car

Rob Rendell runs an agricultural and environmental consultancy business in regional Victoria and is thinking big picture about environmentalism and sustainability.

He reads the wholesale energy market prices so that when it comes time to charge his Tesla Model Y car using grid electricity over his home solar and battery system, he’s getting paid —  or it is cost-neutral —  to do so.

A man holds a charger to an electric vehicle
Rob Rendell uses several apps to decide when to charge his Tesla Model Y.()

“I’m very interested in this sort of thing. The average person just wants to set and forget [and leave their car to charge at little cost], and we’re not quite there yet,” he says.

“I’ve got four apps to control it. We should only have one, but I think in 12 months’ time that’ll we’ll only have one.

“There are times when I used to put my power back in [to the grid]. Now, there’s another app that will stop the energy going in when it’s negative [pricing].”

Looking at getting an electric vehicle

Meanwhile, Craig Kingsley is weighing up whether to get an electric vehicle or buy a Mazda2.

“I’ve had this one (car) about 15 years. Use it pretty strictly for commuting. So doesn’t have a lot of kilometres on it and runs perfectly, but it’s an old car without a lot of the new tech on it. So I don’t need one, but I would like one,” he says.

A man holds onto a steering wheel while sitting in a car
Craig Kingsley is questioning the cost of buying an EV over a combustion engine car. ()

As a daily-run commuter, the 15-year-old Mazda2 has less than 100,000 kilometres, leaving Mr Kingsley to think he, as someone who doesn’t have to worry about range anxiety, is the ideal candidate for an electric vehicle.

“I’ve been looking into some of the smaller and newer electric cars that will be around 400 kilometres of range and around $50,000, give or take a couple of grand,” he says.

“As opposed to a petrol car, a Mazda2 or Kia Picanto are around about $20,000 and $25,000.

“So, if I get an electric vehicle, I will not make the extra money spent back. I don’t see that ever happening in lower operating costs or lower fuelling costs.

“It’ll be strictly a matter of getting ahead of the curve and patting myself on the back for doing something environmentally aware.”

Change is happening

The federal government released its EV strategy in April spelling out proposed fuel efficiency standards for light vehicles.

And last November, parliament passed the $345 million Electric Car Discount Bill which exempts eligible electric cars for business from fringe benefits tax and the removal of the 5 per cent import tariff for families.

A hand holds an electric vehicle charging plug against a car
Most electric vehicle chargers across Australia’s public charging network come with two types of connectors.()

Meanwhile, more EV charging stations are popping up around the country.

Online app for EV users, PlugShare, shows there are 712 EV chargers across Australia.

The Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance has played a role in the rollout of 23 electric vehicle chargers across the Loddon Mallee region in Victoria.

Its programs director David Gormley-O’Brien says the cost benefit of an EV “really depends on the number of kilometres that you drive”.

“If you drive a lot of kilometres then it makes really good financial sense to go to an electric vehicle because with the fuel savings that you make — especially if you’ve got solar at home, but even if you’re just charging from the grid — it’s going to be much more economic quite early with that,” he says.

“If you’re only travelling a small, small range, and it takes a lot longer to become economically viable to get to the intersection.”

Dr Gormley-O’Brien says there are more than 450 public electric vehicle charging stations in Victoria and that the alliance is working with local government to develop a policy and strategy for more chargers.

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