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AUSTRALIANS are increasingly thinking about buying an electric vehicle as their next car purchase with as many as 70 per cent of those surveyed recently showing a higher level of interest in going electric than was the case five years ago.

According to new research from CarsGuide, sustainability (37 per cent) and the rising cost of living (29 per cent) are driving purchase consideration of electric vehicles in Australia.

The report also found a strong link between those with access to solar panels and a propensity to consider a hybrid vehicle.  

The information for its EV Pulse Check was compiled from responses from a sample of 550 CarsGuide readers with the data collected in March 2022. Responses were from electric vehicle owners and automotive intenders and those planning on buying a new vehicle within the next twelve months.

The survey revealed the top reasons Australians are currently buying EVs:

Sustainability mindset: For Australians, the top motivation for purchasing an EV is sustainability with 37 per cent of survey respondents stating that environmental benefits and a reduction in emissions is the leading reason to purchase.

Rising cost of living and higher petrol prices: With petrol prices on the rise, reduced vulnerability to fuel costs is appealing to Australian consumers. Nearly 30 per cent of EV intenders stated decreased running costs as a key motivation to buy.

Utilising existing solar panels: Those with solar panels are 86 per cent more likely to buy an electric vehicle and 63 per cent more likely to purchase a plug-in hybrid as their next vehicle compared to those that don’t have solar panels installed.

Embracing a new era of motoring: There is a common acceptance that this technology will exceed the sales of petrol and diesel powertrains. In fact, 58 of respondents believe that this will occur in the next 10 years (by 2032). For many motorists buying an electric vehicle future-proofs them as the industry evolves and they desire to be an early adopter.

The changing way we use vehicles: Australians living in metro areas who are completing shorter journeys are 61 per cent more likely to buy an EV as their next vehicle than those in regional areas. Similarly, people living in metro areas are 84 per cent more likely to buy a hybrid/plug-in hybrid as their next vehicle. At present, EV body styles are limited in Australia and so 13 per cent of survey respondents stated that they weren’t interested in an EV as they regularly drive off-road and tow heavy items.

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More affordable electric vehicles: Electric vehicles have always been more expensive than the petrol or diesel equivalent. For CarsGuide’s EV intenders, the average budget for an EV is $54,423 and for petrol/diesel auto intenders it is $42,105. As more EV models enter the market the diversity of options means that the price of purchase has decreased, getting more Australian buyers over the line.

Rising price of second hand vehicles: When the time comes to upgrade their current vehicle, 73 per cent of CarsGuide users will sell or trade their previous car. The rising cost of second hand vehicles driven by a stock shortage of new vehicles is giving buyers more money when it comes time to buy. This is encouraging them to upgrade to the more expensive electric vehicle option.

EVs purchased in 2021 increased by 191 per cent albeit off a low base.

The insights are contained in CarsGuide’s recently published EVGuide, an 18-page online booklet of standardised information on electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, the author of the report, Tom White, CarsGuide’s new energy vehicle specialist, urged the federal government to couple its national EV subsidy scheme with education for Australian consumers.

He said education is not matching the rapid rate of electric vehicle adoption which has risen by more than 400 per cent in the first five months of this year.

“Insufficient resources put Australian consumers at risk as they are unable to properly investigate charging infrastructure, subsidies and to conduct accurate comparisons between these models.

“As with any new technology, education is a huge part of accelerating adoption,” Mr White said. 

“Australian consumers are clearly interested in electric vehicles, but unlike the internal combustion engine, Australians are now having to get their heads around battery size, charging times and kiloWatt-hours.”

“More resources and standardised information must exist to enable Australians to accurately assess the local offering and understand which model makes the most sense for them. The federal government needs to take this into consideration before it launches significant electric vehicle incentives.”

Mr White said that ahead of the election, the federal government planned to introduce electric vehicle subsidies which had significantly increased the level of adoption in overseas markets. 

“The same trend is anticipated here in Australia with proposed measures set to reduce the purchase price of electric and hybrid vehicles.”

High prices were said to be the leading barrier to purchasing EVs by 25 per cent of EV intenders, according to the EV Pulse Check data.

By John Mellor

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