Courtesy of Ford

Over Half Of Australians Intend To Buy An EV In The Future

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The attitudes of the Australian driving public have changed dramatically in the past two years. Major influencers appear to be fuel price hikes, and the easing of electric vehicle prices. A new representative national survey (n=1,000) commissioned by Savvy has shown that over half of Australians intend to buy an electric vehicle (EV) in the future.

“Savvy is one of Australia’s largest online financial brokers, focusing on personal and commercial financial products. Founded in 2010, the firm has seen rapid growth, a testament to their provision of market leading rates and reaching customers with the latest in media and technology. Savvy is a proud supporter of Kids Under Cover, a charity assisting homeless and at-risk youth to strengthen their bonds to community and education. Savvy was named one of BRW’s fastest growing companies in 2015. Australian-made, Australian-owned and Australian-run, with a mission to help Australians from all walks of life find the right products for their needs.”

Over half of Australians intend to buy an EV. Chart courtesy of Savvy.

Their recent survey revealed that “41% [of respondents] said they intended to buy at some point in the future, with 10% primed to purchase within the next 12 months. The 45–54-year-old cohort are the most likely to buy at some point (47%) with the 18-24s and 35-44s indicating they’re the most likely to buy within the next 12 months (14% respectively.) The older demographics (55-64 and 65+) were most likely to prefer a petrol driven (Internal Combustion Engine) car.”

The number of people surveyed who consider EVs unaffordable dropped from 30% in 2021 to 17% this year, and women who stated they could not afford an EV dropped from 37% in 2021 to 21% in 2023. I would expect this figure to drop even further with the introduction of the affordable models coming later in the year. The MG4, the BYD Dolphin, and the Great Wall Motors ORA are very affordable, especially when combined with government rebates. 

Over Half of Australians Intend to Buy an EV
Tesla and the GWM Ora. Photo by Majella Waterworth.

12% said they would rather purchase a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) instead. Considering Toyota’s lead in Australia’s current market, this low number might come as a bit of a shock, as Toyota intends to introduce the Hi Lux HEV next year. 3% of Australians surveyed said they already own an EV, up from 2% in 2021.

Australia’s uptake of EVs has been dramatic over the past 36 months, going from 0.8 % (2020) to 2.4% (2021) t0 4% (2022) and now to almost 10% (June 2023). Although Savvy feels that we are a long way from mass adoption of EVs, I would beg to differ and expect that mass adoption will occur rapidly once the market provides affordable EVs in sufficient numbers. The next 12 months should demonstrate this.

Unsurprisingly, the survey highlighted that this affordability sentiment is rising: “There’s no budging on the sentiment of affordability, with 76% agreeing that price drops would make EV ownership more popular and accessible — a 3% increase over last year. 76% of men expressed this view, compared with 81% of women.”

Adrian Edlington, Savvy’s spokesperson, states: “While the numbers of Australians interested in buying an EV in the future remained relatively the same over the last two years since we ran the first survey, the number of people saying they will buy one in the next year did increase 3%, as did the number of people saying they already own one.”

“The biggest change by far though was people’s perceptions of affordability. People who said they couldn’t afford one dropped from 30% to 17%, so people are beginning to find EVs more affordable. In reality, there’s still a long way to go though, before EVs are in reach for average Australians. Hopefully, this year and next, we will see more makes entering the market in the sub-50k range. The closer we get to $40,000 electric vehicles in Australia, the closer we get to mass-uptake.”

Recent price cuts because of the “mini” price war between MG, BYD, and Great Wall Motor mean we have already achieved this. We just need ships to come over the horizon. The newly minted BYD Dolphin Australia Facebook page is awash with people discussing the various merits of the 3 affordable EVs and possible delivery dates. These dates seem to vary from November to early 2024. The demand is there, we just need the supply.

For those interested, a good comparison can be found here. Which Car says that base variants of the MG, BYD, and ORA can be purchased for under AU$40,000, which makes them the most affordable EVs on Australian roads. They speak of an intensifying EV price war.

Over Half of Australians Intend to Buy an EV
MG4 at the Fully Charged launch. Photo courtesy of Sam Moran.

With Great Wall now advertising the electric ORA on primetime television (its ad aired twice during the news last night) and Ampol advertising and selling home chargers, the rEVolution is getting harder for the average Australian to ignore.

The survey revealed a gender divide on electric vehicles — women’s perception of affordability has improved (37% in 2021 down to 21% in 2023), and men who stated they couldn’t afford an EV dropped from 23% in 2021 to 13% this year.

When Australians were asked about the top three changes needed to make EV ownership more enticing, men were more concerned about improved driving range (49%, vs. 33% for women), while women being more concerned about electricity prices (F: 43%, M: 36%). Men also registered more concern about improved infrastructure (44%) versus women (39%).

Overall, Australians’ top choices by far were price drops and/or affordability (76%), with the next three being almost even at around 40%: improved driving range, cheaper electricity, and improved infrastructure.

The barriers to EV ownership are not insurmountable. The affordability issue may already be solved — it’s just that the general public is unaware (let’s hope the salespeople know their pricing); driving range will be solved but only if you buy a more expensive option with a bigger battery; cheaper electricity will only be solved if you have solar on your roof; and the charging infrastructure is being built out rapidly. Again, there is little media coverage for this.

There is a lack of positive reporting about EVs in the Australian media (mainly owned Rupert Murdoch) and a dearth of advertising, even by OEMs that are marketing EVs in Australia (like Volvo, Mercedes, and BMW). It would be interesting to survey people’s level of knowledge about electric vehicles and the supporting ecosystem to better inform our interpretation of the survey findings.

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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 763 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth