Electric cars in Australia: here's what you need to know

21 August 2019

The topic of electric cars is going into overdrive in Australia. Although this technology has been embraced around the world over the last few years (with China, various European countries and the USA leading the charge), they’re yet to spark a lot of interest down under.

However, that could be about to change.

Electric cars available in Australia in 2019

At the moment, the range of electric cars available on the Australian market isn’t much to get amped up about. Combined with high prices, it’s little wonder why drivers have been a bit reluctant to get on board.

The second half of 2019 could begin to shake that up though, with a slew of new electric cars due to hit Australia*, including:

Hyundai Kona Electric

Type: Small-SUV

Range: The basic model comes with a range of 300km, or buyers can opt for the more powerful 500km-range model

When?: By Christmas

Cost: Starts at $59,000

Kia e-Niro

Type: Medium-SUV

Range: Up to 615km

When?: November 2019

Cost: Starts at $55,000

Nissan Leaf

Type: Hatchback

Range: 400km

When?: October 2019

Cost: Starts at $49,000

Audi E-Tron

Type: Medium-SUV

Range: 450km

When?: Mid-2019

Cost: Starts at $140,000

The cost of owning an electric car in Australia

Comparing the costs between buying, owning, and operating an electric car and a petrol car can be tricky. If you’re thinking about buying an electric car but aren’t sure how the costs stack up, you might want to consider:

Upfront cost

One of the biggest arguments against electric cars is the sticker price, as they’re usually more expensive than their petrol counterparts. But is it fair to directly compare the two? Or is that like comparing the cost of a smart TV to one where you have to get up and change the channels manually?

Also, early adopters usually bear the brunt of higher prices. Electric cars are still a relatively new technology, but the good news is they’re becoming increasingly mainstream, as evidenced by the new models coming our way in 2019.

Running costs

Comparing the running costs of electric cars and petrol cars isn’t that simple, either. Fuel prices are consistently high in Australia, but then again, so is the price of electricity.

The key for electric car owners wanting to cut costs may lie in where they source energy. At the moment, there are facilities around Australia that allow people to charge their cars for free. There are even apps and websites that help you find your closest recharge station.

Electric car owners may still need to charge at home though, and that’s where individuals' considerations come into play. For example, someone using traditional power might worry more about their energy bill than someone who uses solar power.

Electric car maintenance cost

This is one area in which electric cars do shine. Having fewer moving parts, electric cars don’t require those regular oil and filter changes, and can save owners plenty in maintenance costs.

The battery life for electric cars, on the other hand, can cost in the thousands of dollars. But they do last for an estimated 8-9 years, and replacement costs are predicted to tumble dramatically in the next (conveniently) 8 years.

Insurance premium prices

Again, without being able to directly compare an electric car and a petrol car (because at the end of the day, they’re two very different pieces of technology), it’s impossible to know whether one type is more favourable when it comes to insurance premiums. The good news is you can still use nearly all the same methods to save on car insurance.   

If you need to lease the battery, you may also want to double check whether you’ll need to insure that separately. The company you lease your battery off should be able to help out there.

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What does the future hold for electric cars in Australia?

By the end of 2019, Australians will have more electric car options than ever. Manufacturers around the world are continuing to invest in this rapidly improving technology. With greater mainstream adoption down under, and growing political interest on a national level, we’ll most likely see a greater investment in infastructure that supports electric car drivers here, too.

The future of electric cars in Australia is exciting. And the best part? That future doesn’t look so far off.

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Information on Australian electric car launches was correct at time of publishing, but may be subject to change. Prices, release dates, and other information is all at the discretion of the car manufacturer, and Suncorp accepts no responsibility for these things changing.

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