Australian EV Sales Steady in December — 2024 Looks Bright

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Within a resurgent Australian auto market in 2023, electric vehicles have maintained a steady presence at around 8% market share. December’s numbers indicate that 7.2% of the market was fully electric (BEV) and 1% PHEV. Over 98,000 vehicles sold in Australia in December, with around 8% having a plug. This is a 161% increase over December 2022. However, Australia’s numbers were impacted by the departure of the Glovis Caravel RORO, unable to unload its cargo of cars due to a yellow stink bug infestation. The cargo has been returned to China.

Government rebates for electric vehicle purchases are changing and on the way out. Queensland still has enough funds for its AU$6000 rebate for most of the first quarter of 2024, but rebates have been cancelled in New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria. Fortunately, the federal government is maintaining its Fringe Benefits Tax for businesses buying EVs for their fleets. “Employers could save up to $12,500 on the purchase of an EV for an employee, while individuals could save up to $4,300.” BEVs and PHEVs up to a cost of AU$85,000 are eligible.

New models are slated for introduction to Australia in 2024, including the Nissan Sakura — which will be Australia’s smallest EV. The Sakura will be imported used, from Japan, by the Good Car Company. BYD plans to follow up its success with the Dolphin and the Seal by importing a PHEV ute by the end of the year. Great Wall is also rumoured to be bringing in a PHEV ute — the Shanhai Cannon — as is JAC with the T9. LDV hopes a relaunch will allow people to forget the disastrous performance of the eT60 as it launches its electric Maxus. 2024 could well be the year of the electric ute in Australia. 2022 was the year of the SUV with the Atto 3 and the Tesla Model Y being introduced, and 2023 was the year of the hatchback with the ORA Cat, the BYD Dolphin, and the MG4 making their appearance. 2024 should be the year of the electric ute.

We took the Seal for a test drive recently and pronounced it a worthy competitor to the Tesla Model 3, at AU$10,000 cheaper. Local holding yards in Brisbane already have dozens of the Seal and deliveries are proceeding post haste.

Our Tesla Model 3 and the Seal together at the dealership park. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Australia has been faced with multiple natural disasters this summer, with a mini tornado in the Queensland Gold Coast hinterland, a cyclone in the north, and floods in between. Victoria and NSW are also facing widespread flooding. Not quite the dry, hot summer we were expecting. From this has come calls for more EV uptake, so that people can use V2L (vehicle to load) to mitigate some of the discomfort.

Here is a story from Bob Burton, via Facebook, used by permission: “We are in Doonan near Noosa and had a black out for 10 hours. We used our BYD V2L feature to run the water pump, fridge, internet, phone charging, fan, tv and of course the Xmas tree to keep us happy. A few extension cords and 10 hours later the car had used only 2% of its battery. Way better than the smelly, noisy generator that we used to use! Looking at making the feature permanent with a socket and transfer switch when I can get an electrician!”

Another great example was the Queensland mum who used the V2L from her BYD to power her son’s kidney dialysis machine. The BYD could power the dialysis machine for four days, and then they would have to take the car to the nearest charger to refill the battery. Thankfully, they only needed to use it for one night. Levi, 11, is due to go on the transplant list shortly. Without the BYD, he would have had to travel to Brisbane. It’s not all life and death situations — they also used the car’s V2L feature to mull the wine for movie night.

In the interest of serving the community in times of crisis, I would urge Tesla to implement V2L capability in their cars. Multiple stories emerged in the recent crises of people with EVs, solar panels, and Powerwalls offering help to their neighbours. Most people are now reconnected to the grid.

Australian industry is continuing to be inventive with the way it tackles electric vehicle charging. Below is a great example — on the highway, close to facilities, and covered with a solar canopy. Independent EV journalist Neerav Bhatt was one of the first people to use the new Ampol AmpCharge Pheasants Nest South EV chargers on the Hume Highway South of Sydney.

The charger is partially funded by the New South Wales government. Photo credit: Neerav Bhatt.

Let’s talk numbers. Over 98,000 new vehicles were sold in Australia in December 2023 (full year figures were over 1.2 million). This is a 12.5% increase over December 2022. Although the auto market is rebounding, it is still lower than the peak set in 2017. It may never reach that level again. Tony Weber, chief of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, said: “Cost of living pressures and increased interest rates will impact the market, and we anticipate a challenging 2024.” Mr Weber expects that the Australian government will introduce fuel efficiency standards this year and that this will have an impact on the uptake of electrified vehicles.

Toyota remains the top selling brand in Australia, with 212,240 sales. Tesla reported the highest level of growth amongst the top ten automakers (135%), delivering 46,116 electric cars in 2023. And it was another record year for plug-in electric car sales, with over 87,000 delivered. The Australian market has come a long way — from less than 1% penetration 3 years ago to over 8% this last year.

The 10 top selling BEVs in Australia in December 2023 were:

  1. Tesla Model Y (1,351) — year to date: 28,769
  2. Tesla Model 3 (841) — year to date: 16,506
  3. BYD Atto 3 (756) — year to date: 11,042
  4. MG4 (607) — year to date: 3,134
  5. BYD Seal (471) — year to date: 471
  6. Polestar 2 (405) — year to date: 2,463
  7. Kia EV6 (252) — year to date: 1,731
  8. BYD Dolphin (236) — year to date: 925
  9. Volvo XC40 Recharge (197) — year to date: 2,846
  10. Mercedes-Benz EQA (140) — year to date: 1,589

The Great Wall ORA is now the cheapest EV in Australia, having reduced prices to compete with the MG4 and the BYD Dolphin. In December 2023, the MG4 was the highest selling passenger small car of all fuel types. The BYD Seal has leapt on to the top ten chart in its first month of deliveries, pushing out the MG ZS EV, which had 2,783 sales in its first full year. Tesla Model Y made it into the top ten list of all cars sold in Australia for December and for the full year.

In the year-to-date figures, as well as the cars mentioned in the December 2023 top ten, honourable mentions should go to the Kia Niro EV (985), BMW iX1 (947), Hyundai IONIQ 5 (947), and Cupra Born (887). These are full year numbers. The Mustang Mach-E had 6 deliveries in December.

Coming in 2024 are the much-anticipated Toyota and Subaru twins and an electric Cadillac. As always, the future looks bright, and electric!


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