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Electric cars continue push into Australia despite lack of government support

By Cole Latimer / The Age / 28 November 2018

Main image: The Hyundai Ioniq is making electric vehicles more accessible for Australians due to its lower price entry point.

Electric vehicles makers are pushing into Australia despite a lack of government support, as cars begin hitting Australian shores at more accessible price points in order to boost EV uptake.

The Hyundai 2019 Ioniq electric vehicle is one of the first mid-sized EVs selling for less than $50,000, overcoming the major stumbling blocks of the high cost of fully electrified cars.

These high EV prices have failed to fall over recent years due to a lack of government support for the industry through subsidies or financial incentives, typically seen in other countries throughout Europe and North America, which are designed to boost electric vehicle sales.

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said the price of the car had broken new ground for EVs in Australia.

“This is a huge step forward for us as an industry in Australia,” Mr Jafari told Fairfax Media.

“The price difference between EVs and non-EVs has been around $10,000, for that premium battery technology, but this new vehicle is bringing that pricing gap down.

“What we’re seeing is an industry that’s very eager to invest in Australia.”

The Ioniq EV will be priced at around $45,000.

Nissan’s 2019 fully electric Leaf launched in October is priced about $69,000, while Jaguar’s I-Pace electric vehicle is priced at around $119,000. The Tesla Model 3 costs around $55,000.

A report prepared by energy consultancy Energia for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation found that high up-front costs were one of the main influencers for Australians in buying electric vehicles.

Image: Electric vehicles don’t receive federal government subsidies in Australia, which has slowed uptake.

It said EVs and petrol-driven cars won’t hit parity prices until the mid-2020s.

Earlier this year, former federal energy minister – and the current Treasurer – Josh Frydenberg called price one of the key hurdles for EVs in Australia.

“The reason why Australia has such a poor level of take-up rate for electric vehicles is because they are expensive compared to other cars, thirteen out of sixteen of EVs that are on sale in Australia cost more than $60,000,” Mr Frydenberg said.

This high barrier for buyers was compounded by a lack of federal subsidies, which have acted as a key driver for the uptake of EVs in other countries.

There currently around 6000 fully electric vehicles on Australian roads.

Other hurdles for Australia include a lack of national charging infrastructure, which is held back by a lack of demand due to the low uptake of electric vehicles.

UBS is forecasting a massive growth in electric vehicles as EV costs fall over the coming decade.

Speaking at the UBS Australasia Conference earlier this month, UBS analyst Lachlan Shaw predicted a global need for 16 electric vehicle battery manufacturing facilities the size of Tesla’s Gigafactory in the US to keep up with demand.

Hyundai is also launching a plug-in hybrid and petrol/electric hybrid Ioniq model alongside the fully electric version.

The fully electric version has a 28 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery with 88 kilowatts of maximum power and a range of 230 kilometres.

According to Hyundai, the fast charging capability of the Ioniq means it can be charged to 80 per cent capacity in just over 20 minutes with a 100 kilowatts, or 30 minutes using a 50 kilowatt charger.

The plug-in hybrid model has a 8.9 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The electric and plug-in hybrid models also have remote engine starts and remote access to doors.

Hyundai said in circumstances where charging stations aren’t available, the vehicles come with an “In-Cable Control Box” (ICCB) in the boot of every electric vehicle that allows it to be charged via any standard household powerpoint.

However, it does take around 12 hours to reach full capacity from zero charge using this method.

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