When it comes to car buying in Australia, could going green be the new black? Sales for electric cars have been growing substantially over the past 12 months, with figures sourced by the Electric Vehicle Council (EV Council) showing 6,718 fully electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars were sold in Australia in 2019. This is a 203% jump from the 2,216 sold in the previous year.
January 2020 figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) also indicated an increase in EV and PHEV buying in Australia, with sales in these electric car categories in the private sector up more than 54% compared to January 2019. This comes amid the continued decline of new petrol and diesel car sales, which fell by nearly 8% in the same timeframe.
The EV Council said the growth in electric car sales is likely to continue throughout 2020, with nine more EV and PHEV models set to be introduced to the market by the end of this year, including several models priced under $60,000.
If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint or save on petrol costs, what exactly are your options when it comes to electric vehicles in Australia, how much do they cost, and what are some of the key things to consider before plugging into the electric car market?
What electric cars are currently available in Australia?
According to the EV Council, there were 22 electric vehicle models available in Australia as of August 2019. Of those 22, there were nine EVs, which are those that run exclusively on an electricity-powered battery, and 13 PHEVs, which run off both an electricity-powered battery and a small petrol-powered engine.
Here is a snapshot of some of the electric cars available in Australia, as of February 2020:
The pricing and specifications below were gathered from vehicle manufacturer websites, carsguide.com.au and caradvice.com.au. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a general guide only. The ‘range’ is the maximum distance a vehicle can travel on a fully charged, brand-new electric battery. A ‘standard socket’ is an existing power point used in a home. The secondary charging outlet options listed (e.g. 7.2kWh charger or Type 2 charger) are those recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, which typically must be installed in the home. Fast charge is the rate at which you can charge your electric battery at a publicly accessible fast charger or super charger outlet.
BMW i3 (2019)
The BMW i3 is a 5-seater hatchback. It was launched in Australia in 2014 and is a pure electric car, with the option to buy a range-extender gas engine. There is also a sport version, the BMW i3s.
Price from: $68,700
Battery Size: 42kWh
Charge time: 19 hours, 30 minutes (standard socket), 3 hours, 15 minutes (BMW i3-phase Wallbox Plus)
Fast charge: 80% in 40 minutes
Hyundai Kona Electric (2019)
The Kona is a small SUV with 5 seats. It is the first ‘pure’ electric SUV in Australia.
Price from: $59,990
Battery Size: 64kWh
Charge time: 28 hours (standard socket), 9 hours, 35 minutes (7.2kWh charger cable)
Fast charge: 80% in 54 minutes
Hyundai Ioniq Electric (2020)
Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric is a 5-seater sedan. It was Australia’s first pure electric vehicle priced under $50,000 when it was first released in 2018.
Price from: $48,490
Battery Size: 38.3kWh
Charge time: 17 hours, 30 minutes (standard socket), 6 hours, 5 minutes (7.2kWH charger cable)
Fast charge: 80% in 54 minutes
Nissan Leaf (2019)
The Leaf is a 5-seater hatchback, and according to Drive.com.au is the world’s best-selling pure electric vehicle. It was launched in the Aussie market in 2019.
Price from: $49,990
Battery Size: 40kWh
Charge time: 24 hours (standard socket), 7 hours, 30 minutes (type 2 charging cable)
Fast charge: 80% in 1 hour
Renault Zoe (2019)
Renault’s Zoe is a pure electric hatchback with 5 seats. It launched to private buyers in Australia in August 2018.
Price from: $47,490
Battery Size: 41kWh
Charge time: 17 hours (standard socket), 3 hours (22 kW charger)
Fast charge: 80% in 45 minutes
Tesla Model 3 (2020)
According to carsales.com.au, the 5-seater Tesla Model 3 medium-sized sedan is the most affordable and mainstream pure electric vehicle available from Elon Musk’s Tesla brand. It comes in standard plus, performance and long-range models in Australia.
Price from: $66,000 (standard)
Charge time: 17 hours (standard socket), 6 hours (with Tesla charger)
Fast charge: Tesla claims 270km boost in 30 minutes (at super charger locations) which is approximately 59% in 30 minutes
Other electric vehicles currently on the market
Below is the list of the other electric vehicles (EV and PHEV) currently on the Australian market, according to the EV Council. These have been listed in alphabetical order as per their vehicle category.
Pure electric vehicle (EV)
- Jaguar I-Pace: from $124,100
- Mercedes-Benz EQC: from $137,900
- MG ZS: from $46,990
- Renault Kangoo Maxi ZE: from $53,490
- Tesla Model S: from $124,900
- Tesla Model X: from $133,900
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)
- Audi Q7 e-tron: from $139,990
- Audi A3 e-tron: from $62,490
- BMW i8 Coupe: from $318,900
- BMW i8 Roadster: from $348,900
- BMW Countryman: from $57,200
- BMW 330e: from $77,257
- Hyundai Ioniq: from $41,990
- Jaguar Land Rover Range Rover Sport: $128,200
- Jaguar Land Rover Range Rover: $175,101
- Mitsubishi Outlander: from $45,990
- Porsche Cayenne: from $145,500
- Porsche Panamera: from $280,000
- Volvo S60: from $85,990
- Volvo XC90 T8: from $124,900
- Volvo XC60 T8: from $92,990
What electric cars are due to arrive in Australia in 2020?
Here is a list of some of the electric vehicles slated to arrive in Australia in 2020, according to Australian electric vehicle news website, The Driven, and the EV Council:
- Audi e-tron EV: Available mid to late 2020
- ACE Cargo EV: Available early to mid-2020
- ACE Yewt EV: Available mid to late 2020
- ACE Urban EV: Available late 2020
- Glory EV SUV EV: Available early to mid-2020
- Mini Cooper SE EV: Available mid-2020
- Porsche Taycan EV: Available mid-2020
- Volvo Polestar 2 EV: Available late 2020
- Volvo V60 PHEV: Available in early to mid-2020
4 Considerations when buying an electric vehicle
If you are thinking of going green on the road and purchasing a low-emission electric vehicle, there are a few things to consider before you buckle in.
1. Can you afford the upfront cost of the car?
A recent comparison from the Queensland Government found that while electric vehicles are generally cheaper to run than petrol or diesel cars, they are typically more expensive to purchase. The EV Council said while the upfront costs of EVs are currently more expensive than conventional petrol and diesel vehicles, they will become more affordable with time as competition, investment and innovation increase in Australia.
If you are looking to save on the purchase price of an electric vehicle, compare your options carefully and consider buying used. The second-hand electric vehicle market is likely to grow as new EVs hit the market. When considering a used or ex-demo model, look closely at the health of the vehicle’s battery, as it will lose capacity over its life span. A qualified service technician may be able to plug in a diagnostic tool to determine the battery’s health for you, or you may be able to take the vehicle to a local car dealership for the brand of the vehicle and ask for a battery test.
2. What is the car’s range and will it suit your driving habits?
How long your electric vehicle can travel between charges (its ‘range’) could be important to consider, particularly in a large country like Australia. The EV Council reports that current EVs have an average battery range of approximately 480km, while the average Australian drives around 38km per day, meaning an EV owner could potentially go for at least 10 days without a recharge.
However, the range you see outlined by the manufacturer can differ to what you actually get from a particular EV. Factors such as the condition of the battery, your driving behaviour (e.g. how you accelerate or brake), and the weight inside the car can also impact the how far you travel on one charge. If you regularly drive further than the maximum range for an EV you are looking to buy, then you will need to consider whether there are adequate charging options and whether this option is right for you. With a combined petrol engine and rechargeable battery, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) can provide a longer range so may be a suitable option for those wanting to travel further and charge less.
3. How much does it cost to insure an electric car?
Based on our research, most car insurers in Australia offer insurance for electric vehicles. However, insurance premiums for electric cars will typically be more expensive than cover for petrol or diesel cars. One of the reasons for this is because electric cars tend to be more expensive to buy and thus more expensive to replace, which is then reflected in the premiums you pay. In addition, because electric car numbers are still low in Australia, manufacturers may have limited facilities to repair your vehicle or source replacement parts in the event of an accident, which could lead to higher prices for repairs, particularly if parts need to be shipped in from overseas.
To give you an idea of the difference in car insurance premiums between an electric vehicle and a petrol-powered vehicle, Canstar Research compared quotes for the Hyundai Ioniq Electric Elite with the Hyundai Elantra Sport Premium. Specification-wise these two cars are comparable, however, the purchase price for the electric option is around $13,000 more expensive (at the time of writing). Based on a sample of quotes across a range of driver profiles (including ages and genders) and addresses in NSW, Canstar found that comprehensive car insurance premiums for the Hyundai Ioniq Electric Elite were, on average, 52% more expensive than the petrol alternative.
It’s important to factor in these higher insurance costs when budgeting for the purchase of an EV. If you do buy an EV, it may be a good idea to shop around for an affordable policy that will meet your needs, and to look for ways you can save on your premiums, such as buying online or setting a driver age restriction.
4. What are your charging options and how much do they cost?
In Australia, you can charge your electric vehicle at home or at a public charging station, and the costs involved with each vary.
If you have a garage or carport, you can charge your electric vehicle at home using either a standard existing wall socket (used in combination with a specialised cable, often supplied with the vehicle) or a dedicated EV charging station (which an electrician will normally need to install). According to Car Advice, depending on your vehicle, a standard wall socket may take around 18 – 24 hours to fully charge your car, whereas a dedicated EV charger may take as little as 4 – 6 hours.
However, if you choose to install a dedicated EV charger, there may be costs involved for the electrician’s services and if the charger is not included when you purchase the vehicle. Electric vehicle charging product supplier, EVSE, said the cost of the hardware for a dedicated EV charger can range from between $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the product you choose and your vehicle requirements.
In terms of the cost to charge up your electric car at home, EVSE said the average cost of electricity is about $0.25 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in Australia, and it takes about 18kWh of electricity to travel 100km in your EV, working out to be approximately $4.50 in electricity charges to travel 100km. In comparison, EVSE said the average petrol car in Australia uses 11.1 litres of fuel to travel 100km, which could cost approximately $13.99 to travel 100km if you are charged $1.26 per litre.
For those who need to charge away from home, such as while travelling, you will need to use a public charging outlet. Publicly accessible fast charger or super charger outlets can charge a battery at a faster rate, sometimes within 30 – 40 minutes, according to Car Advice. While some of these charging stations are free to use, others may form part of larger network and require either a paid membership to use or operate on a pay-as-you-charge basis.
For more information about buying electric vehicles in Australia, you can visit the Australian Government’s Green Vehicle Guide website, or you can contact your local branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association.
This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Car Insurance