Australians are in love with big, polluting cars – here are some alternatives | electric vehicles
A recent report on the carbon emissions intensity of new light vehicles sold in Australia found that emissions fell by just 2% in 2021 even as electric vehicle sales tripled.
In fact, of the top selling models in Australia, seven of the top 10 were either larger Utes or SUVs.
It’s fair to say that Australians have a love affair with big polluting cars and this is hampering Australia’s overall emissions improvements. It’s also being encouraged by tax breaks that push people towards second-burners.
“Transport emissions in Australia have already increased by around 22% between 2005 and 2019 and we are on track [in] In 2030, transport emissions will still be above 2005 levels,” said Jake Whitehead, the Electric Vehicle Council’s chief policy officer.
“While every other sector is expected to contribute to a 43% reduction [to meet Australia’s Paris agreement targets] Traffic emissions will be higher. That means farmers, manufacturers, miners, industry, energy [and] All other sectors will have to take on this burden of transport and reduce their sectors even further because we didn’t act fast enough.”
“There are about 45 electric vehicles available in Australia right now, so there are a lot out there that will fit the people… but it won’t fit all because we don’t have that broader range.”
“To achieve this broader range, we need a fuel efficiency standard so that we can bring all types of electric vehicles into the country to cater to all types of lifestyles and businesses.”
So what are the alternatives, if any?
Here we take a look at the 10 best selling vehicles in Australia in 2021 and similar electric and hybrid models available.
Best-selling vehicles and alternatives
1. Toyota HiLux – 52,801 sold – from $24,225 – Emissions: 182 g/km (combined city/highway)
There’s no direct replacement for the Toyota HiLux currently on the market, partly because Toyota has lagged behind other manufacturers in electrification, opting for hybrids instead. The new-gen HiLux range is expected to have a hybrid option when it launches in 2023. That’s not to say there aren’t electric paraphernalia: both the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning are both good electric alternatives, but aren’t yet available in Australia.
2. Ford Ranger – 50,279 sold – from $29,190 – 210 g/km
Ford is a leader in commercial vehicle electrification with its Ford F-150 Lightning. There are rumors that an EV version of the Ranger is in the works, but any movement on that is years away. In the meantime, the Rivian R1T is another alternative, but it’s not expected to go on sale until 2024. If size isn’t your priority, Australian company ACE EV takes reservations about the ACE Yewt.
3. Toyota RAV4 – 35,751 sold – $34,400 – 137g/km
The good news is that lower-emission options are indeed already available in the Australian mid-size SUV market, and more are to come. Starting with the RAV4, a hybrid version is available from $40,450 (107 g/km). Toyota has been working on an all-electric mid-size SUV, the bZ4X, which is due to launch in Australia in 2023, with prices expected to be around the $70,000 mark. Hyundai has launched the Kona Electric with a range of 300 miles and a starting price of about $57,429, and Chinese automaker BYD has launched the Atto 3 electric SUV.
4. Toyota Corolla – 28,768 sold – from $25,395 – 81 g/km
The Toyota Corolla is the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the top 10 with 81 g/km emissions. In the small and medium-sized car category, it is easier to find a lower-emission alternative. A new Nissan Leaf starts at $50,990, but a used one can be picked up for around $20,000. Another alternative is the Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback when it lands in 2024 or 2025.
5. Toyota Landcruiser – 26,633 sold – from $60,830 – 250g/km
The Toyota Landcruiser is a beast of a vehicle that many Australian farmers and other primary producers rely on. However, many are used to taking short trips to the suburbs. If this applies to you, it’s best to swap it out for something smaller, as it’s currently the most polluting on the list. If you’re going to rely on one for serious work, there are no exact matches when it comes to EV models – although there are companies that do have electric talk. Toyota is rumored to be working on a hydrogen-powered V8 engine for the Landcruiser that would eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, but NOx emissions could still be an issue.
6. Hyundai i30 – 25,575 sold – from $25,990 – 157 g/km
The Hyundai IONIQ Electric is a good replacement option, albeit with a higher price tag of $49,970. Others from the Volkswagen range, including the ID.4 and ID.5 electric SUVs, may also represent a good alternative when they are introduced at the end of 2023. If in doubt, there is also the KIA Niro electric vehicle in the compact SUV market.
7. Isuzu Ute D-MAX – 25,117 sold – from $64,990 – 190g/km
Again, there aren’t any great immediate options, but if you’re in the market for an EV ute, check out the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150.
8. Mazda CX-5 – 24,968 sold – from $32,390 – 158 g/km
Mazda has started releasing its own line of EVs, including the E35 Astina and MX-30, although they can be a little pricey. For other brands, the Tesla Model Y is a good alternative.
9. Toyota Prado – 21,299 sold – from $60,830 – 208 g/km
The Prado is another offering in Toyota’s bulky 4WD lineup. In addition to the models already mentioned, the Tesla Model Y might be another good option for those who want something with a little less environmental impact.
10. Mitsubishi Triton – 19,232 sold – from $41,990 – 204 g/km
Mitsubishi is another big automaker that wasn’t exactly interested in bringing electric vehicles to Australia. Instead, the company is sticking with its plug-in hybrid electric vehicles like the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid. If you’re loyal to the brand and want to step into a cleaner vehicle, then this might be the way to go – or you can wait for the other electric Utens to hit the Australian market.
EV alternatives are expensive, but fuel savings add up over the long and mid-term — even if you’re sourcing power from the grid. But if you’re lucky enough to have a rooftop solar system, you can save even more.
According to Solar Citizens fuel economy calculator, the Tesla Model 3 LR is very similar to the Mazda 3, costing just 22% to charge over a year. Fuel for the Mazda 3 costs about $14.63 per 100 km, while charging costs for the Tesla Model 3 LR are $3.35 per 100 km.
Of course, there are other ways to save on fuel costs and emissions: switching to a smaller, more efficient vehicle, or giving up the car, using public transit, walking, or cycling are good options. But, for now at least, the love affair with big cars seems to have endured.
Additional reporting by Royce Kurmelovs