How are electric vehicle sales performing?

Figures released this week from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said that only 49 electric cars were sold in Australia last year, in a market that topped 1 million total vehicles for the first time. According to the SMH, the number of electric vehicles sold declined by 9.9 per cent on 2010.

Whilst politicians are calling for Australian manufacturers to build electric cars, customers are shunning them in favour of larger soft-roaders and cars with more powerful engines. Even some of the best-selling small cars in Australia – including many Mazda3s – aren’t that fuel-efficient. Whilst we’ve previously discussed how the improving cost and emission efficiency of petrol vehicles will be the biggest threat to the EVs, these figures indicate that Australian buyers are not driven by efficiency as much as price.

The price of hybrids continues to remain high, with the cheapest model currently available in Australia retailing from $48,000 plus costs. With more hybrid models due to arrive soon (including one model from $25,000), this sub-segment may finally see some form of mainstream traction in Australia.

Meanwhile in California, car manufacturers are being forced to build electric vehicles, adopting rules that mean manufacturers will have to produce about 1.4 million advanced vehicles for sale in California alone by 2025. Adoption of California’s new rules comes as the state and the US Environmental Protection Agency match regulations for carbon exhaust and other pollutants. Read more about this here.

Across the border in Canada, the body corporate of an apartment block in Ottawa is up in arms over one of their residents who is using the apartment block’s electricity to recharge his electric car. The article says residents share the electricity bill for the complex, and the body corporate decided that because it does not pay for the fuel of other vehicles, it should not have to pay for the Volt’s recharging, at less than $1 per day.

The electric vehicle market is a very interesting one at the moment – it certainly seems to be at a tipping point. The only question is – which way will it fall? Wider acceptance, or consigned to history?

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