Australia still lags other nations in electric car race

The pace of electric vehicle sales is picking up worldwide, with a report revealing drivers bought two million more battery-powered cars in the first half of this year than in 2022.

The Canalys research, released this week, also revealed China continued to lead the electric car race globally, while BYD and Tesla remained locked in a battle to be the world’s top electric car brand.

But Australia’s use of the low-emission transport technology lagged behind the world average despite rising sales.

The Canalys report found electric car sales rose by 49 per cent during the first six months of 2023, representing 6.2 million sales worldwide.

The vehicles made up 16 per cent of light vehicle sales globally, up from 12.4 per cent during the same period last year.

BYD sold the most battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, Canalys found, commanding 21 per cent of the market, although Tesla sold the most battery-electric vehicles with a 15 per cent share.

Canalys principal analyst Jason Low says competition among automotive brands has become tighter, particularly in China where no single electric car model has a market share of more than 10 per cent.

But he warns car makers need to do more than cut prices to grow the industry.

“Price wars have caused more automakers to focus on cost reduction but excessive emphasis on cost reduction can lead to decreased investment in new technology,” he said.

“Automakers must rapidly improve their software and hardware capabilities.”

China remains the world’s leading market for electric vehicles, with sales in the country making up 55 per cent of all sales globally or 3.4 million cars.

Europe followed in second place with 24 per cent, while the US made up 13 per cent of electric vehicle sales but showed “positive signs of growth” during 2023, Mr Low said.

Canalys predicted electric vehicles would reach 18 per cent of light vehicle sales by the end of the year, with more than 14 million sold in 12 months.

But the Australian market is likely to fall well short of the global average after Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries found electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles made up eight per cent of all vehicle sales in the six months to June — just half the global average.

The figure is a significant increase on the year before, however, when the low-emission vehicles made up 2.3 per cent of sales.

The Electric Vehicle Council estimates more than 50 per cent of all new cars sold will need to be electric by 2030 for Australia to meet its climate targets, with an interim goal of one million electric cars on Australian roads by the end of 2027.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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