Australian drivers are being urged to better understand battery size, charging times and subsidies in the rush to buy electric cars.

Electric vehicle sales have risen by more than 400 per cent in the first five months of this year, and are expected to accelerate with the introduction of federal EV subsidies.

Concern for the environment and the rising cost of living are driving interest in electric cars, according to research for CarsGuide released on Tuesday.

The federal government plans to swiftly introduce an Electric Car Discount designed to encourage car manufacturers to import and supply more affordable electric models in Australia.

But new energy vehicle specialist Tom White is urging Labor to couple its scheme with taxpayer-funded education for Australian consumers.

He says consumers are at risk as they are unable to assess charging infrastructure.

Nor are drivers properly equipped to weigh up the financial and performance comparisons between models.

“Consumers are clearly interested in electric vehicles, but unlike the internal combustion engine, Australians are now having to get their heads around battery size, charging times and kilowatt-hours,” he said.

Some 70 per cent of those intending to buy a new vehicle within the next 12 months have more interest in an electric vehicle than they did five years ago.

More resources and standardised information could help drivers understand which model makes the most sense for them.


* Environmental concerns and cutting emissions is the leading reason to purchase at 37 per cent of survey respondents.

* Next highest is the rising cost of living (29 per cent) as petrol and diesel prices soar, and the prospect of lower running costs from EVs.

* Households powered by rooftop solar are 86 per cent more likely to buy an EV, and 63 per cent more likely to want a plug-in hybrid, compared to those without panels.

* Embracing a new era of motoring as an early adopter or trendsetter, with petrol and diesel vehicles expected to be ousted over the next 10 years.

* The changing use of vehicles, with city dwellers needing shorter journeys 61 per cent more likely to buy an EV as their next vehicle than those in regional areas.

* More affordable electric vehicles entering the market, getting more Australian buyers over the line.

* The rising price of conventional second-hand vehicles also tips buyers towards an upgrade to an electric option.

Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)