Electric cars crash Aussie records but utes top charts

Electric cars made up almost one in 10 new vehicles sold in Australia, according to new data, in the best result for the low-emission technology to date.

But the popularity of diesel utes also soared by 26 per cent in Australia during February, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ report, and made up two in every five vehicles sold.

Utes also dominated the ranks of most popular vehicle models in Australia, making up three of the top five vehicles sold, interrupted only by Tesla’s Model 3 and a Toyota SUV.

The chamber’s chief executive Tony Weber said the popularity of the high-polluting vehicles proved the federal government would face challenges when introducing emission limits in the country.

The figures released on Tuesday showed Australians purchased a record number of new cars during February despite challenging economic conditions, snapping up more than 105,000 vehicles last month compared to 86,000 in February 2023.

SUVs continued to be the most popular style of vehicle in the nation, representing more than half of all cars sold, followed by utes and passenger vehicles.

The Ford Ranger ute topped the list of best-selling vehicle models, followed by Toyota’s HiLux ute, but Tesla’s Model 3 electric car sped into third place after overcoming supply issues.

The entry-level Tesla led a record month for electric cars, as they made up 9.6 per cent of all new vehicles sold during February in their highest result to date.

The tally of more than 10,000 electric cars included Toyota’s electric vehicle, the bZ4X, for the first time, as well as strong numbers for the Tesla Model Y, BYD Seal and MG4.

Hybrid vehicles also registered high sales during February, making up more than 11,000 cars sold.

Despite the result, Mr Weber said the data proved the federal government would need to overcome significant hurdles to introduce its New Vehicle Efficiency Standard that would limit emissions.

“Australian motorists’ strong preference for utes, accounting for 20.3 per cent of sales this month, demonstrates the challenges with the proposed (standard),” he said.

“Growing sales of electric vehicles across other market segments proves that where a battery electric product exists which suits the driving habits of Australian motorists’ work and recreation needs, they will purchase these vehicles.”

Mr Weber said just one of the 21,327 utes sold during February was an electric model.

The federal government last month announced plans to introduce its New Vehicle Efficiency Standard in January 2024 and launched a public consultation into its preferred model that closed yesterday.

The standard, similar to those used in the UK, US, China and Japan, will put an emissions cap across automakers’ fleets in an attempt to encourage brands to balance sales of high-polluting vehicles with low-emission models.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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