Disclaimer: Data on this website was obtained from the sources named in this article from the latest available data as at June 2020. Auto & General Services Pty Ltd does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the data and accepts no liability whatsoever arising from or connected in any way to the use or reliance upon this data.

Quick Stats

  • There are over 3 million electric cars operating globally
  • Electric vehicles make up only 0.2% of the total vehicle fleet in Australia
  • Australia has one of the lowest rates of electric car ownership in the OECD
  • 6718 fully electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars were sold in Australia in 2019

Historical Data

Since the introduction of the first electric car, the General Motors EV1, in 1996, electric cars have seen tremendous technological advances and a rise in popularity. The first viable electric car became available for purchase in 2008 with Tesla Motors. The Roadster was an all electric vehicle using lithium-ion battery cells. Electric car sales in Australia only started to gain traction from 2011 onwards coinciding with electric car model availability.

2019 saw a big year for electric car sales within Australia, with 6718 fully electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars sold. This only makes up 0.6% of total car sales within Australia in 2019.1

Unfortunately, Tesla do not release their official sales number making it hard to predict just how many Tesla cars are sold in Australia and the combined total of electric car sales.

Number of vehicles sold in Australia

Total vehicles sold vs the total number of EV's sold in Australia

Year Total Vehicles Sold Total Number of EV's Sold % of EV's Sold
2011 1,008,437 49 0.004%
2012 1,112,030 253 0.023%
2013 1,136,227 293 0.026%
2014 1,113,224 1322 0.12%
2015 1,155,408 1771 0.15%
2016 1,178,133 1369 0.12%
2017 1,189,116 2287 0.19%
2018 1,153,111 2216 0.3%
2019 1,062,867 6718 0.6%

By state

Victoria has the highest numbers of electric car ownership across the country with 1324 vehicles bought from 2011-2017, closely followed by NSW with 1,238 vehicles in the same time period.

However when looking at the data from a market size perspective, the ACT and South Australia leads with 21 electric cars per 10,000 vehicles sold. Given the varying populations of each state, electric vehicle sales per 10,000 vehicles gives the best representation for which states are adopting electric vehicle technology.2

Electric vehicle sales (per 10,000 vehicles)

10 9 7 21 8 3 1 21

International comparisons

Australia ranks very low internationally when comparing the total percentage that electric cars make up of total cars on the road. The three main factors that influence electric vehicle uptake in a country are consumer demand, pricing and incentives put in place by the country's government.

When it comes to the percentage that electric vehicles make up of the total vehicle fleet in Australia, the results have been underwhelming compared to global leaders such as Norway and the USA. Of the 36 OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, 32 of them have higher sales rates for electric vehicles than Australia. The only countries with lower electric vehicles sales rates were Mexico, Chile and Turkey which are classified as emerging economies4.

Total percentage of electric cars on the road

For new car sales Australia ranks only slightly better with just 0.6% of new vehicles being electric vehicles.

Total percentage of new electric vehicles sales

Why Australia is lagging behind

Lack of incentives

The slow adoption of electric vehicles in Australia could be attributed to the lack of Government policies and monetary incentives rolled out in comparison to other countries. 30.9% of respondents in a consumer survey undertaken in 2018 said that they would be more willing to purchase an electric vehicle if there was more support, incentives and infrastructure in place.

Countries such as Norway that offer both financial and non-financial incentives for electric vehicle purchasing and maintenance have high rates of electric vehicle uptake.

Laws and regulations

Australian Parliament passed new regulations in December 2018 regarding the importation of vehicles Australia that will come into effect in December 2019 and will likely see more electric cars on Australian roads from 2020 onwards. The have made changes to the previous criteria for importing cars via the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVS). Now the only criteria are that the cars to be imported can not have been on sale in Australia, have been on sale for more than three months overseas and that the cars offer an ‘environmental performance significantly superior to mainstream vehicles in Australia’.

Lack of support

Infrastructure Australia identified a lack of charging stations as a significant barrier to wider adoption of electric vehicles in Australia.3 Charging station adoption throughout the country is necessary in order to increase the range electric vehicles are able to travel around Australia.

As of July 2019, there are 1,930 charging locations available, equating to roughly one charging station for every six electric vehicles.

Number of charging stations by state

161 216 162 76 122 21 5 20

Price points

For new car sales Australia ranks only slightly better with just 0.6% of new vehicles being electric vehicles.

With the lack of monetary incentives for the public looking to purchase an electric car, the price point on the available models can act as a barrier to average Australians. It is the higher priced electric cars that are showing the greatest growth in the Australian market, indicating that people are primarily interested in electric vehicles as luxury vehicles. 19 of the 23 available electric models are priced at over $60,000, when the average car cost in Australia is $27,9943. 35.5% of respondents in a consumer survey undertaken in 2018 said they would be willing to buy an electric vehicle if they were the same price as petrol or diesel options.

A second-hand electric car market has yet to emerge, but with electric car sales on the rise, the second-hand car sales market should rise with it. Once a second-hand electric car market is established, pricing will act as less of a barrier for electric car sales in Australia.

Models available

Another contributing factor could also be the lack of vehicle models available in Australia. There are several new models soon to become available within Australia which could potentially see electric vehicle ownership increase.

Here is a snapshot of some of the electric cars available in Australia, as of February 2020:

  • BMW i3 (2019)
  • Hyundai Kona Electric (2019)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric (2020)
  • Nissan Leaf (2019)
  • Renault Zoe (2019)
  • Tesla Model 3 (2020)

For a more comprehensive breakdown of car availability in Australia, head over to our electric vehicle guide