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The Australian Electric Vehicle Shortage: Why This Is Happening

Demand outstrips supply: this is the story of the moment in Australia’s booming electric vehicle (EV) industry. With strong support at the state and territory level to buy electric vehicles, the industry is struggling to meet the clamour from Australian motorists for EVs. The Ukraine crisis and consequent rising oil prices are contributing to this heightened EV demand as people are discovering that this is the time to buy vehicles that do not rely upon fossil fuels to run.

Hyundai Ionic 5
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 (Credit: Hyundai Motors Group/Unsplash)

Guardian Australia reported this EV shortage, noting that Hyundai’s Ioniq 5, an electric SUV, was sold out within minutes after its launch. 18,000 people flooded the Korean motor company’s website to express their interest in the 109 available units. And industry leaders there such as Behyad Jafari, Chief Executive of Australia’s Electric Vehicles Council, are warning that meeting EV supply concerns is far outstripping the need to educate Australian consumers about EVs.

In November of 2021, the Australian federal government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, announced a public-private partnership to build more than 50,000 charging stations as part of its Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy. The strategy hopes to ensure that 30% of all Australian vehicles are EVs by 2030, just 3% higher than official government estimates for EV demand. However, critics point out that the Australian government has not adopted emissions standards that are prevalent in the European Union and other countries. Moreover, a careful reading of the policy reveals that the federal government is not that keen on shifting vehicular energy sources, with funding for diesel reserve purchases exceeding that for electric vehicle development.

While there are state and territory efforts to encourage EV use, particularly Queensland’s Zero Emission Policy that would offer a A$3,000 incentive for EV purchases under certain conditions, a lack of federal government incentives has led manufacturers to shift to markets where such incentives exist. For instance, major Southeast Asian markets such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are encouraging EV use and in some cases, domestic manufacturing to meet potential demand.

2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (Credit: Charlie Deets/Unsplash)

The Australian EV market has seen surprising growth over the past two years, with 2021 seeing a massive jump in the number of registered EVs. According to end-of-year reports, over 2.4% of all Australian vehicles are electric, more than three times the previous year’s figures. Leading the market is established brand Tesla, but the entry of players like Hyundai and others has enabled more affordable EVs to become available. Jafari was quoted in one report as saying this: “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be up to 20% already. We have a federal government talking about hitting those targets by 2030 when really we could be there today. It’s just a matter of them doing their jobs.”

While we have yet to see what first-quarter 2022 figures would be like for the Australian EV market, there is one key factor guiding recent EV demand in that country, which is the Ukraine crisis and the resulting rise in oil prices. These factors draw attention to how economies around the world are dependent on imported fuel products to run themselves. But as more people are seeing EVs as a pragmatic long-term investment in a sustainable future, meeting this demand is one of the biggest challenges the country’s EV industry faces. They are waiting to see how they can be supported to do that.

  • Australia’s electric vehicle market is struggling with heightened demand as motorists are keen on buying the latest EV models.

  • As of the end of 2021, 2.4% of all Australian vehicles are now EVs, a threefold jump from 2020 figures.

  • State and territory support for EVs and concern over fuel prices caused in particular by the Russia-Ukraine war are spurring EV demand in the country.

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