Matt Holding set an alarm on his phone so he wouldn’t miss a limited release of electric vehicles, but by the time he jumped in line to buy one, they were sold out.
Within six and a half minutes, Hyundai’s 109 electric SUVs had been sold – 18,000 Australians had expressed interest.
“You just have to keep trying and get in there right away, which seems ridiculous when you’re buying an $80,000 car,” Holding says of the second time he tried to beat the queue to buy the Hyundai Ioniq 5.
The rate at which cars have sold is part of a wider issue, industry leaders say, as demand in Australia now exceeds supply.
“Our biggest problem now is actually attracting the supply of electric vehicles, not getting Australians interested in buying them,” said Behyad Jafari, chief executive of the Electric Vehicle Council.
Jafari says Australia is underserved in electric vehicles compared to many other countries due to a lack of government policies on electric vehicles and climate. Instead, the majority of electric vehicles travel to countries that require automakers to sell them in order to meet energy efficiency standards and CO2 emission reduction programs. The UK has banned the sale of all new petrol cars by 2030, in South Korea the date is 2025.
Last year the Morrison government announced that it would partner with the private sector to fund 50,000 electric vehicle charging stations in homes, 500 for businesses and 1,000 in public spaces. It’s part of the government’s $2.1 billion financing the future fuel and vehicle strategy. A spokesperson for Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the strategy will make it “more easy for Australians to make the choice to switch to a new technology vehicle that suits them”.
But Australia remains the only OECD country not to have energy efficiency standards for CO2. Nor has Australia adopted the harmful Euro 6 fuel quality emissions standards, which were applied to all new cars sold in the EU more than six years ago.
“Australia are out of the game,” Jafari said. “Our partners in the United States, Europe and around the world have a much easier time because they have to bring enough electric vehicles to their markets.”
Last year’s automakers warned that there would be production cuts due to supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic. But Hyundai Australia’s chief business officer, Bill Thomas, said the fact that there are not enough electric vehicles available in Australia is mainly due to a lack of incentives to sell the cars here, rather than to supply chain issues.
In Australia, there is a six to nine month wait on Tesla models. Automaker Kia could only secure 500 of its new electric SUVs this year despite 20,000 Australians showing interest.
When Nathan Gore-Brown, an EV consultant, saw Honda confirm that he had no plans to sell the electric car he wanted in Australia – the Honda E – he decided to import one from UK opportunity. It cost between $15,000 and $20,000 to bring the nearly $45,000 car to Australia.
Gore-Brown says a major issue holding back EV adoption is that Australia doesn’t have the same choice of models as many other countries, and what gets sent here is often delayed. Automaker Škoda has announced that its Enyaq electric SUV will be sold in Australia in 2023, three years after it was first sold in the UK.
Thomas says demand for Hyundai’s electric vehicles has steadily increased since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drove up gasoline prices. “We’re seeing more and more talk about electric vehicles in showrooms,” he says.
“People come to see cars and they’re much more likely to talk about the potential of an electric vehicle, even more than they were two weeks ago.”
Hyundai has requested more electric vehicles for the Australian market, but has yet to confirm that they will be delivered. It hopes to get a lower-priced version of the Ioniq 5 model later this year.
Jafari says that without government leadership on electric vehicles, Australians have been left in a risky position. “Every year that we continue with Australians buying petrol vehicles, they risk buying a new vehicle which four or five years from now will be worthless… no one will want to buy it because it’s redundant technology,” he says. .
“There basically needs to be a warning that people are buying landline phones as the world goes to mobile phones.”
Due to the difficulty of obtaining an electric vehicle suitable for Holding’s family of four and a dog, he bought an internal combustion engine car four months ago to get by.
“I needed a car, and it got to the point that I couldn’t wait any longer,” he says.
A spokesman for Energy Minister Angus Taylor said supply chain constraints were a global issue affecting vehicles and components.
“Despite these constraints, Australians already have the confidence to make the choice to drive an electric vehicle,” they said. “Electric vehicle battery sales are soaring, having tripled from 2020 to 2021.”
The spokesperson said the government’s modern manufacturing strategy aims to overcome global constraints and boost local production.