A growing number of Australians are “excited to get their hands on” an electric vehicle (EV) as sales surged across the country last year.

EV sales more than doubled with 87,217 vehicles sold in 2023, according to figures by the automotive industry’s lobby group, FCAI.

This translates to 7.2 per cent of the market, which is a jump from 3.1 per cent of sales in 2022.

Electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles accounted for 196,868 sales overall, which is 16.2 per cent of the market.

Beyhad Jafari, chief executive of the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), said the figures were promising.

“Really encouraging to see that as more electric vehicles are made available in the Australian market and its prices come down, Australians are very excited to get their hands on one,” he said.

“Australia started behind the rest of the world, but we’re very quickly catching up. We hope to continue seeing sales double this year as well, and that challenge gets larger and larger.”

Hybrid vehicles also rose from 7.6 per cent to 8.1 per cent of the market this year, a much slower rise.

Based on the strong sales growth of EVs, Mr Jafari predicted they would pass hybrid cars this year.

“Electric is only a few years old and we’re already seeing them very quickly catching up to hybrids; I think next year surpassing hybrids as well,” he said.

“Electric vehicles are the ones doubling in sales every year. No other segment whether it’s petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles are doing that same thing.”

When looking at the reasons behind the uptake, the EVC chief executive said rising petrol costs fuelled the increase in sales amidst the cost of living crunch.

“What we certainly saw in our market research was that the increase in petrol prices led to a lot more interest in electric vehicles.”

Mr Jafari added that there was a recognition that fuel prices were “always going up and they’re going to continue going up in the years to come”.

“We’re beholden to interests everywhere else in the world, and there’s an Australian saying, ‘Well, why don’t I spend a bit more, buy an electric vehicle and then ditch the petrol pump for good?'”

More variety and charging infrastructure critical to EV future

While the data was encouraging, Mr Jafari said a bigger variety of EV models was needed to ensure sales continued increasing during the coming years.

“It’s great that we’ve seen sales increasing so much but we’re still around two times behind other major markets around the world,” he said.

“We can double sales by just having more options available to Australians and letting people choose from them.”

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, believes accessible and reliable charging points were also key to the future of EVs in the country.

“Charging infrastructure is absolutely critical to the uptake of EVs, and if the Australian government, and then the private sector, doesn’t do the right thing in terms of easy recharging infrastructure that will hamper easy take up,” he said.

“If you don’t have the recharging infrastructure, people won’t buy. And so it’s absolutely critical to the rollout of low emissions technologies to have the appropriate infrastructure in place.”

Mr Weber said there was still “a long way to go” to building up that infrastructure and providing enough supply of EVs for motorists considering a transition.

“The critical point comes when people, especially people who live in regional and rural Australia who don’t have access to recharging easily, when they start to buy, that’s when we need to see significant growth in the recharging network,” he said.

“And that’s going to be challenging, but vital.”

However, he said there were positive signs for EV sales in Australia going into 2024.

“I think there will be further growth in the electric vehicle market.”

“I think that’s inevitable, and right around the advanced world, EVs are the future. It’s a question of what the trajectory is in the movement of EVs across the marketplace.”

Extracted in full from:  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-05/australia-ev-sales-doubled-electric-hybrid-vehicles/103284916