According to the Australian Automobile Association, electric vehicle (EV) sales in Australia will reach an all-time high in 2023. However, light vehicle sales continued to be dominated by emission-intensive trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
Battery electric vehicles accounted for 7.2% of all vehicles sold last year, more than double the 3.1% in 2022, according to data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) on Thursday.
If hybrids and plug-in hybrids are included, the sales share by 2023 will rise to 16.2% of all new car sales, or nearly one in five vehicles.
The current centre-left Labor government, which comes to power in 2022 after a decade of Conservative governments resisting the introduction of electric vehicles, has launched a national electric vehicle strategy and committed hundreds of millions to cleaner transport.
Transport is one of Australia's biggest sources of emissions and the growing adoption of electric vehicles supports the government's pledge to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030.
However, Australians still prefer SUVs or light commercial vehicles, models associated with higher emissions when powered by fossil fuels. These two categories accounted for 78.4% of all new car sales last year.
The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hi-Lux are two of the most popular vehicles and one-tenth of all vehicles sold in 2023 emit more carbon dioxide than average.
Efforts to adopt electric vehicles have long been hampered by shortages, a limited number of models and rare and sometimes faulty charging facilities.
As a result, adoption has lagged for years in countries like the US or the UK, where sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will account for 7.7% and 23%, respectively, by 2022, according to the International Energy Agency.
In November, Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the government would soon announce details of long-awaited fuel efficiency standards, a policy supporters say would encourage manufacturers to send more electric vehicles to Australia and financially support adoption.
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