In the aftermath of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (better known as COP26), the Coalition Government has unveiled a new $250 million electric vehicle policy – a stunning backflip for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who during the 2019 election railed against Labor’s EV policies, saying that they would “end the weekend” because EVs can’t tow or go off-road, according to him.
The policy centres around working with the private sector to improve Australia’s EV charging network as well as low-interest financing support for fleet vehicles. It’s a (somewhat) refreshing change of pace after years of inaction from the federal government, but critics have already got stuck into Morrison for this strategy, which they reckon doesn’t go far enough.
“Unlike every leading electric vehicle market globally, the plan delivers no financial or tax support to help Australian motorists make the switch to a cleaner car,” a trio of researchers from the University of Queensland explained in The Conversation.
“The government has failed to explain how the policy will help Australia achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, just as it failed to do when releasing its economy-wide emissions reduction plan last month… the new plan is not the national electric vehicle strategy Australia deserves and badly needs.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has been particularly pointed in his criticism, pointing out that this new policy passes more than a slight resemblance to the Labor policy Morrison pooh-poohed, telling Sky News that “it fails the laugh test.”
“[Morrison’s] hoping that people are goldfish, and they don’t remember what happened just two years ago.”
In short: it’s too little, too late, and out of step with the rest of the planet. Talk about embarrassing.
Speaking of embarrassing, watch the Tesla Model S Plaid embarrass Europe’s supercars by doing 0-60mph in under 2 seconds below.
As Albanese has pointed out on numerous occasions, Australia only needs to look to the example of Norway to see how easy it can be to get people to drive EVs.
Despite the fact that Norway is a prominent oil producer, you not only receive substantial financial incentives when purchasing a new electric car, but EVs are also exempt from the annual road tax, all public parking fees, having to pay tolls and are even allowed to use bus lanes in the Scandinavian country.
The upshot of this is that Norway is now the world’s keenest adopter of EVs. For reference, around 74.8% of all light vehicles sold in 2020 in Norway were electric, compared to 6.2% in China (the world’s biggest EV market and manufacturer) and less than 2% in Australia.
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Of course, Norway is a smaller and richer country than Australia. But like Australia, Norway has a tough and unforgiving landscape – especially during their hellishly cold winters – and no local auto manufacturing industry to speak of.
That’s really the only part of the government’s argument that holds water: why subsidise new EV sales when car makers already have a vested interest in making EVs more affordable? “Our plans aren’t about sending a lot of taxpayers’ money off to big multinationals to get costs down. They’ll do that themselves. They have a keen interest in doing that,” Morrison has said.
It’s a good point, but probably not a driving factor (pun intended) behind the government’s policy. We’d wager ideology and the fossil fuel lobby have had more of an influence on policy than that thought.
At the end of the day, it’s Australian consumers who are going to lose out. We’re already set back by being a geographically isolated, right-hand drive country – car companies simply won’t bring their cool new EVs Down Under without a more progressive federal EV policy as they won’t be able to justify the cost.
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That said, we don’t want to be all doom and gloom about the Australian EV landscape. Despite the odds, there are already some pretty cool EVs that are about to come Down Under – as well as some very cool cars that are already here. Here are some of the best.
Kia’s newest electric vehicle, due on our shores next year, is a real revelation. High-tech, incredibly good looking, practical and with surprisingly hefty performance credentials to boot, it might just be the most exciting car reveal of 2021.
Its 239kW, dual-motor, all-wheel drive, 77.4 kWh battery setup is capable of a 0-100km/h time of around 3.5 seconds. That’s faster than a new BMW M3 Competition or a Lamborghini Urus. Crucially, however, it’s faster than Tesla’s forthcoming Model Y as well as the currently-available Model X Performance (but not as fast as the Model X Plaid, which hasn’t made its way Down Under yet).
The EV6, as well as its platform-sharing stablemates, represent a real ‘coming of age’ moment for the South Korean auto industry. We think they’re really going to shift the needle on the public perception of Korean cars, as well as one what an affordable EV is capable of. Hot stuff.
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Hyundai IONIQ 5
If you can’t wait for the Kia EV6, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 is already here… In theory, at least. Based on the same Hyundai Electric Global Modular Platform as the EV6 (as well as the recently-unveiled Genesis GV60), it’s a slightly different take on the formula: where the GV60 is aimed at luxury buyers and the EV6 is positioned as a performance offering, the IONIQ 5 is aimed at a broader, more design-focused audience. The Tesla and Apple crowd, basically. Just take a look at its futuristic design: origami-like angles blended with confident curves.
That said, Hyundai is reportedly working on a high-performance IONIQ 5 N variant, as well as a more affordable, de-specced version in order to compete with the Tesla Model 3 and forthcoming Polestar 2, Carsales relates.
We say ‘in theory’ as the first run of IONIQ 5s sold out within hours of online orders opening earlier this year, and Hyundai isn’t opening new orders until next year. This in itself demonstrates the conundrum Australian EV buyers have: because the overall segment is so small, the demand for (certain) models is punishingly high… You can’t win, eh?
Aussies love utes, so bringing an electric ute to market seems like a no-brainer. Ford has their F-150 Lightning, but they’ve confirmed that it won’t be sold in Australia as there are no plans for right-hand drive production. However, Ford has invested in American EV startup Rivian, which is bringing an electric ute Down Under: the R1T.
Not only does it look amazing – more conventional than Tesla’s Blade Runner-esque Cybertruck but still plenty futuristic – with over 482kms of range, 35cm of ground clearance and a 0-100km/h time of under 3 seconds (depending on your tyre choice), the R1T is a truly exciting prospect, which has already convinced hundreds of buyers to put deposits down for the forthcoming beast.
But the really exciting thing about the R1T is its practicality. Aside from the spacious interior cabin and large tray, the ute features a huge ‘gear tunnel’ under the rear seats which can store a number of different modules, including a ‘Camp Kitchen’ module that looks to be a game-changer for off-road camping – or simply be an extra storage location for large, bulky items.
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Ford might not be bringing the F-150 Lightning (or the Mustang Mach-E, for that matter) Down Under, but they are bringing their new E-Transit: an all-electric version of the iconic, best-selling van.
Not only will it be the most powerful Transit in Ford’s range (making 198kW and 430Nm of torque), but its ability to charge and run power tools on the go as well as its big, Tesla-style tablet centre console makes it extremely convenient. Also like a Tesla, it can also be set up to run the air conditioning whilst it’s on charge so that when you start your shift in the morning, you’ll have a perfectly cool or warm car ready to go – a big plus for fleet buyers.
Oh, and because it’s electric, it’ll be able to haul ass like nobody’s business. Imagine being able to chop a Golf GTI or Falcon Ute at lights in a bloody Transit van… Mad. It’s perhaps not the ‘halo car’ you’d expect from Ford but it’s actually a rather savvy move from Ford Australia to make the E-Transit their first EV on the market.
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Audi RS e-tron GT
It’s not just the Koreans taking a modular approach to making EVs: ze Germans are doing it too. The RS e-tron GT, Audi’s first all-electric sports car, is based on the same platform as Porsche’s mind-blowing Taycan (more on that car here). A grand tourer of the finest Germanic tradition, it’s slightly longer, larger and more practical than the Taycan. Like the Korean trio above, it demonstrates that just because a car shares a platform with another doesn’t mean they have to be carbon copies.
Despite its more luxurious focus, it’s no slouch: 0 to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds, has a top speed of 245 km/h and boasts a maximum sustained power output of 350 kW, which can be temporarily boosted to 390 kW. The top-spec RS model is even more muscly: 0 to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds, a top speed of 250 km/h and 440 kW, 475 kW when boosted. That’s faster than a Lamborghini Huracàn… And you can still seat 5 people while doing it.
CNET has already called it “almost perfect” and “one of the best cars on the road today”. We’re just about ready to camp out at the docks for the first deliveries.