Australian vehicle market in March. Chart courtesy of Robert Nicol.

Slight Dip in March EV Uptake Down Under

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

There was a slight dip in electric vehicle uptake Down Under, in Australia and New Zealand, in March.

New Zealand EV Market in March

For those who would like to drill down into the detail, check out the interactive charts at EVDB. The skinny is that the New Zealand market had a slight dip in the uptake of BEVs (fully electric vehicles) in March 2023 but a massive drop in the purchase of HEVs (conventional hybrids). Compare to February sales results here.

Penetration of the market for the various powertrains was: HEVs — 22% (2,564 units), PHEVs — 4.4% (515 units), BEVs — 22.7% (2,637 units), and full petrol/diesel vehicles — 50.8% (5,911 units).

EV uptake Downunder
New Zealand vehicle sales chart, courtesy of Robert Nicol.

The most notable change from February is the reduction in HEVs, from over 7000 per month to just 2564. Is this a trend or an anomaly? Only time will tell. The three-month trailing average for hybrids is 21%. In March, New Zealand reached a penetration rate of over 27% for plug-in vehicles, way past the tipping point. Like Australia, we need a few good electric utes to push through to higher market numbers.

The best-selling BEVs were: the Tesla Model Y with 761 units, followed by the BYD Atto 3 (617), the MG ZS EV (317), and the Tesla Model 3 (115).

On the broader market, EVDB comments: “Around half of the vehicles added to the register each month are used imports. Except for the Nissan Leaf, most of these imports are not BEVs (although an increasing number are straight hybrids). This reflects the Japanese domestic market, NZ’s primary used vehicle source. Another significant segment is the ‘light commercial’ class of vehicles (that includes utes and vans). In this segment, over 75% of vehicles are utes, most of which are diesel. Market share has remained unchanged, despite a pollution fee.”

Australia EV Market in March

Meanwhile, over the ditch in Australia, BEVs + PHEVS = 7.5 % of total new auto sales. That’s compared to 6.8% in January and 8.1% in February. Penetration of the market for the various powertrains is as follows: HEV 5% (5,247 units); PHEV 0.5% (569 units); BEV 7% (6,612 units), and petrol/diesel 83% (84,823 units). This is out of Australia’s total market sales in March 2023 of 97,251 vehicles.

EV uptake Downunder
Australian vehicle market in March. Chart courtesy of Robert Nicol.

For the first time in Australia and New Zealand, BEVs outsold conventional hybrid electric vehicles throughout the quarter. Just a year ago, HEVs were outselling BEVs by a significant margin Down Under.

“This growth demonstrates that where Australians can afford a battery electric vehicle which suits their lifestyle, they will buy them,” FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said. Obviously, there is no demand problem.

The best-selling BEVs in Australia were: the Tesla Model Y (1,938 units), the Tesla Model 3 (1,640 units), the BYD Atto 3 (1,061 units), and the Polestar 2 (212 units). Data is not yet available in Australia for the MG ZS EV. To compare these totals with February’s results, see here.

EV Progress in Australia — Story after Story

Stories continue to be posted on Facebook providing anecdotal evidence of the surge of interest in EVs in Australia. Just this morning, one correspondent wrote that she spent the weekend unloading 1700 Teslas off a ship. That got a lot of likes. Then there is this heartwarming story of inclusion — a Polestar and BMW drove into a bar, and hooked up while sharing the Porsche charger cocktails. The charger cables were almost touching each other, green and blue “charging” lights slowly pulsing. It was so cute. Their love blossomed as they filled up slowly but gracefully. Thank you, Paul.

EV uptake downunder
Inclusion. Photo courtesy of Paul Brooks.

Melbourne has just hosted the Australian Grand Prix — and the launch of the Ford Mustang Mach-E in Australia. The new Fiat 500e is currently on display at the Fiat Car Club of Victoria’s Fiat Autobella car display at Deaf Children Australia. These vehicles will be available for sale soon.

EV uptake downunder
Fiat 500e. Photo courtesy of Jono Crellin.

From Perth on the west coast: “I was so excited yesterday taking my granddaughter to school in my MG ZS EV. It’s only a 5-minute run and we saw a Tesla, a BYD, and a Hyundai EV! Plus, other parents at the school have MG EVs and Teslas — the wave of the future!”

More cars means we need more chargers and we have to learn the new rules. King George Square in Brisbane has doubled the number of level 2, free chargers in its underground carpark. This is a great move and we took advantage of it when we went into town to interview Kav and Marzi (see here). However, when we returned to the car park after a couple of hours of great conversation, we found every parking bay full, but two cars not plugged in. A Mercedes and a Model Y were using them as privileged EV parking, not charging. This was despite a prominent display of charging etiquette rules which indicated the bays were only to be used for charging. They will have to learn to follow the rules soon — big fines are coming!

On a side note, I wonder why the Brisbane City Council is not promoting its work installing chargers. I read its newsletter, and there’s no evidence of it. Are they scared that people will say “poor people pay rates and council spends it on free charging for rich people with electric cars?” Who knows?

“The New Zealand government is planning charging hubs every 150–200 km by 2028 (big charging stations that cater for a lot of vehicles at a time). One public charger for every 20–40 EVs in urban areas (cities with limited off-street parking). Charging stations in all towns with 2000 or more people (by 2025).”

Australia is looking forward to the imminent arrival of three affordable EV hatchbacks. The MG4 has already been launched and the ORA Cat and BYD Dolphin are not far behind.

It is now Easter, and with more and more electric cars on the roads in Australia, the media headlines have turned from creating stress around the car itself to encouraging people to worry about the lack of charging infrastructure. I am sure that people will have to queue in some busy spots, and I look forward to the news reports after Easter decrying an EV purchase as a poor decision. You can count on the conventional media to recycle the FUD while ignoring the queues at petrol stations and the fact that prices have just been hiked up 25% for the long weekend.

Happy Easter!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Video

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 738 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth