Australians priced out of electric vehicles, says Carsales and Volkswagen

Carsales has released an insights report into the uptake of electric vehicles (EV) in the Australian market, finding that while Australians are showing increased interest in electric vehicles, this is yet to translate into sales.

The Moving Electric Vehicles Forward study highlights consumer consideration, the adoption of EVs and why the price range for currently available is proving to be a barrier. Regulation in Australia is one reason for the the lag, as unlike global counterparts such as the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States – which provide subsidies for the importing, production and purchasing of EVs – Australia does not.

The Moving EV Forward is the result of four pieces of consumer research around the future of electric vehicles in Australia, those being two Carsales consumer insights studies in June 2019 and February 2021, an online Carsales survey in May this year and a Google ‘Gearshift’ study in 2020.

Google reported that 2021 has seen growing interest from Australian consumers, with a 33% year-on-year increase in search queries for Hybrids and Alternative Vehicles in the month of April.

On Carsales, 47% of survey respondents considered buying an EV, however this has only translated into 3% purchasing one, with the highest age group showing consideration being between 25-34 year olds.

Consideration for EVs is high on Carsales, however this has not translated into sales conversion – 47% of survey respondents had considered purchasing an EV, and only 3% have converted to a sale. The highest consideration by age group (75%) are Aussies aged between 25 and 34, contrasting the fact 69% aged under 24 have not considered an EV.

The research lists the cost price of EVs as being the main factor taken into consideration with 42%, and vehicle range coming a close second at 39%.

Electric vehicles, yet to be a major hit in Australia

Kurt McGuiness, public relations and brand experience manager at Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA), said that the current market conditions and electric vehicle requirements in other markets have proven it to be a barrier so far.

“From a VGA perspective, it’s something we’re always looking into and would love to offer the range of electric vehicles currently on offer elsewhere, but unfortunately production priority has to be allocated to markets with emission reduction requirements and, ultimately, a less hostile approach to the technology.”

Australia currently has a range of different, and confusing regulation, with regards to EVs. Victoria’s proposed levy, set to be implemented in July, will charge electric and zero-emission vehicles 2.5 cent per kilometre travelled on the road, and 2.5 cent/km for plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEV).

The scheme’s aim is to make up for the lost revenue from fuel excises, with a goal of $30 million over four years.

“The Victorian Government’s new EV tax, for example, is the first disincentive of its kind anywhere in the world,” continued McGuiness.

On the flip side, NSW minister for transport Andrew Constance said in April that the state would not impose a levy on EV vehicles until at least 40-50% of the market is electric. South Australia also halted its plans to implement a similar tax to Victoria’s until mid-2022, with the intention of waiting to see how other states approach the issue.

Volkswagen Group Australia’s Kurt McGuiness

All other states and territories have no plans for an EV tax at this stage.

With additional charges like Victoria’s, this will do little to promote the uptake of EVs for not only those looking to give up there oil powered cars, but also for first-time buyers, with the report also finding that 69% of respondents under the age of 24 had not considered an EV.

“While those aged between 25 and 34 had the highest consideration for EVs, they also had the highest concerns around price to purchase, range and charging stations and were, interestingly, the most notorious for filling up only when the light comes on,” said Kellie Cordner, CMO at carsales.

With car brands such as Volkswagen currently not being incentivised to add to the 14 currently available EV models to choose from in the Australian market, there continues to be little electric alternative to Aussie favourites with off-road capabilities such as the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Toyota Land Cruiser, the most frequently searched models according to

“The other thing to bear in mind is PHEV owners get taxed twice – once with the EV tax, and once with fuel excise,” said McGuiness. “The Victorian Government was made aware of this prior to the tax being passed and chose to ignore it.”

However, there is a future for EVs in Australia according to the research given 65% of respondents indicated they would be more likely to consider an EV, if they were more affordable.


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