New research conducted by global data and insights company, Pureprofile Limited (ASX: PPL), reveals that high upfront costs, a lack of public chargers and range anxiety are keeping more Australians and New Zealanders from investing in electric vehicles (EVs) for transport. The research, conducted in August 2023, gathered perceptions and attitudes toward the emerging electric vehicle market from over 2,000 Australian and 1,000 New Zealand respondents.
- Close to two-fifths (39%) of Australians mentioned that high upfront investment is standing in the way of their EV purchase.
- Almost 2 out of 3 (65%) Australians reported that the rising cost of living has also hampered their ability to purchase an EV.
- Over one-third (36%) felt that Australia did not have enough EV charging stations throughout the country.
- 28% said that they were worried about running out of battery power in the middle of a journey.
Limited electric vehicle adoption in Australia
Australian rates of electric vehicle adoption are far behind other nations with only 3% of vehicle owners currently using EVs. In fact, 89% of Australians still drive petrol-powered vehicles, 15% drive diesel vehicles, and 4% drive hybrid vehicles.
The research shows that New Zealand had a much higher rate of adoption than Australia, with 11% owning EVs. The majority of Kiwis still own petrol vehicles (83%), with 12% owning diesel vehicles and 8% owning hybrid vehicles.
Australian and New Zealand EV adoption rates still sit well behind other developed nations, with Norway (all-electric vehicles made up 80% of passenger vehicle sales in 2022), Iceland (41%), Sweden (32%), the Netherlands (24%) and China (22%) topping global adoption charts.
Despite low ownership rates, Australians do have a significant level of enthusiasm for EVs with 77% intending to purchase one in the future. Fuel cost savings (56%) and long-term environmental benefits (49%) topped the list of reasons why Australians would consider an EV. Kiwis proved to be much more budget-conscious in this regard, with 73% prioritising savings and 50% considering the environmental benefits. Yet, significant obstacles still stand in the way of widespread adoption in the ANZ region.
High upfront costs
Close to two-fifths (39%) of Australians mentioned that high upfront investment is standing in the way of their EV purchase, with the average price of a vehicle currently sitting at $86,000. Almost 2 out of 3 (65%) Australians reported that the rising cost of living has also hampered their ability to purchase an EV.
For those who would purchase a secondhand EV (36%) in order to save on cost, their primary considerations were battery health and remaining vehicle lifespan (60%). Nearly one-third (31%) of Australians are planning to make their first EV purchase within the next two to five years. Toyota (44%), Tesla (33%), and Hyundai (25%) emerged as the top brands they are contemplating for this forthcoming acquisition.
Again, Kiwis appear to be much more sensitive to expenses with more than 1 in 2 (52%) reporting that high upfront costs were a key barrier, with 66% agreeing that the rising cost of living has limited their resources. They were also more likely (49%) to consider a secondhand EV vehicle.
Close to one-third (32%) of New Zealanders were also two to five years away from their first EV purchase, and Toyota (48%), Kia (25%) and Hyundai (23%) were the top brands they would consider.
A lack of charging infrastructure and range anxiety
Another top adoption barrier was concern surrounding the amount of charging stations available in Australia. Over one-third (36%) felt that Australia did not have enough EV charging stations throughout the country. As of December 2022, Australia has fewer than 2400 public charging locations. Comparatively, Canada (which is of similar geographical size and population to Australia) has more than 8700 public charging stations. Only 1 in 4 Australians (26%) believe that the government has invested enough in infrastructure to support the rollout of EVs.
Closely related to concerns about a lack of public chargers, 28% said that they were worried about running out of battery power in the middle of a journey. Australians’ range anxiety is so acute that 78% reported that they felt it was important for EV owners to have roadside assistance cover, with 65% willing to pay extra for insurance that provides roadside assistance or towing for a flat battery.
Despite having a relatively strong public charging station network (New Zealand currently has 340 public charging stations; approximately one for every 75 kilometres of state highway), sentiments were similar in New Zealand. A quarter (25%) were concerned about insufficient charging stations, and 36% worried about running out of battery mid-journey. The majority of Kiwis (76%) also felt it was important to have roadside assistance cover with 68% willing to pay extra for it.
Pureprofile’s Managing Director APAC, Anna Meiler says, “The surge in consumer demand for sustainability is undeniable, and the transportation sector is no exception. Our research underscores the pressing need for substantial government investment in EV infrastructure, especially focusing on expanding charging station networks and promoting renewable energy sources. The barriers to higher EV adoption are evident, but the path to a sustainable future is within reach.
“ Businesses, and insurance companies in particular, need to stay abreast of evolving EV attitudes and considerations, especially in light of developments such as the High Court quashing Victoria’s EV levy. In this ever-evolving landscape, market research becomes a vital tool, ensuring that all stakeholders remain responsive to our increasingly environmentally-conscious society.”