Status of Electric Cars in Australia

A close up of a electric car while on charge

Electric cars are widely popular in the US, Europe and China, however they have had a much slower uptake in the Australian market. Australians love their petrol and diesel-fuelled engines, which could be part of the reason why we appear more sceptical of the change.

Despite this, electric cars are available in the country and there are plans to resolve some of the issues and concerns people might have about making the switch.

In this article, we look into the status of electric cars in Australia and our options for the future.

A Healthier Alternative

As time goes on, we are getting closer and closer to electric cars becoming standard on our roads. This is due to a number of reasons, most notably the shift from petrol and diesel to a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable option.

Vehicles are a major cause of air pollution in urban areas, producing harmful substances such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. Last year alone, road traffic was responsible for approximately 13% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The switch to electric cars requires a significant amount of electricity and therefore energy resources to power the vehicles. However, the impact on the environment once the vehicle is fully charged is reduced drastically when compared to a traditional engine. Additionally, a potential shift to renewable energy sources in Australia could push the electric car agenda even further.

What Powers You?

Although more Australians are getting on board with healthier transport alternatives such as walking and cycling, not everyone is ready to give up their cars altogether. Thankfully there are currently vehicles available on the market which have less impact on the environment than a standard car.

There are a number of fuel-efficient petrol, hybrid and electric cars available in Australia which are easy to drive and use less fuel than comparable conventional models. They require less oil and emit less pollution and greenhouse gases. However, these cars can cost a lot more than their standard equivalents, so you’ll need to drive them for a number years before you recover the difference.

An Electric Argument

Beyond the energy and industrial cost of a car’s initial production (stamping panels, moulding interior plastics etc.), there’s virtually no additional ongoing cost to the environment from running the vehicle compared to a petrol or diesel-powered car.

When you purchase an electric car, all of your charging power comes from the electrical grid. It’s arguably easier to improve greenhouse gas emissions by replacing and refurbishing some or all of the 167 coal and gas power stations (above 1MW output) around Australia than by replacing and refurbishing the 20 million cars on the road. Therefore, if you’re someone who deeply cares about the environment and our long-term impact, buying an electric car makes sense.

Cost Efficiency

Electric cars are charged by batteries, meaning you’ll never need to purchase fuel again if you’re driving an all-electric model. The Guardian notes that the total cost of owning an electric car, including purchasing and running costs, will be cheaper than that of traditional cars by 2022.


According to FleetCarma, electric cars are safer than cars with internal combustion engines. This is because it is practically impossible for a battery powered car to explode on impact, and thanks to the heavy battery packs in electric cars, their centre of mass is much lower and they are less likely to roll. Electric cars are also equipped with all of the safety features that are standard in vehicles, with many electric vehicles actually exceeding safety standards.


Charging your electric car is a bit like charging your phone overseas – you need to know where the nearest charging stations are and make sure you’ve got the right plug. Generally, charging stations are concentrated in capital cities, but it still might take a bit of researching via a website or app.

Time taken to recharge electric vehicles is speeding up. While a home charging station is typically used, charging at supermarkets, offices or other public spaces can take 20 to 30 minutes for a full charge from zero. The great news for the future is that superfast charges are on the way and not just for Tesla owners. In the future it’s predicted that we’ll be able to recharge in just 10 minutes, or even less.

Inner City vs Long Distance Cars

Hybrid cars are great for driving in heavy traffic, particularly because the conditions mean the most suitable aspects of both the electric and fuel-powered components can be used to their advantage. The electric component can be used to get the car up and running, while the brakes are used to regenerate power by turning the motor into a generator as the car comes to a halt, which acts as a power source to top up the battery.

Some electric car models are designed for city-based commuters, and can often travel between 170km to 200km when fully charged. Others on the more premium end of the price scale can go distances of approximately 350km to 610km when fully charged.

An ABC crew has recently test driven a Tesla Model S electric car on Western Australia’s ‘Electric Highway’ from Perth to Augusta (315km), proving the theory that some electric cars can indeed travel the distance on Australia’s regional roads without running out of power.

There are only a handful of electric cars available in Australia at the moment, including a couple of Tesla Motors models, plus options from Nissan, Mitsubishi and BMW. Owners of the more expensive and top-of-the-range electric cars argue that their initial investment will save them money in the long run because they will spend less on servicing, maintenance and fuel. There’s no oil change, gearbox serving or any of the technical services you have to do for a petrol car. For electric cars there’s just one common replacement part – the battery pack.

The Next Step

There are still a number of concerns among Australians regarding the adoption of electric cars as standard. Such concerns could potentially be resolved with improvements in necessary infrastructure and decreases in battery pricing moving into the future.

With improving battery technology, the likeliness of longer driving range is likely which could assist in the uptake of electric vehicles. Once the general public is more open to the purchase of electric cars, pricing will likely become more competitive as new players in the market emerge.

For now, electric cars are still an emerging technology in Australia. What do you think about electric cars on our roads? We would love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions you might have about electric cars. Alternatively, if you’re in the market for an electric car, we can help you buy a car too! Call Car Search Brokers today on 1300 650 890.

Posted on September 11, 2017 in New Car Features