Why electric car dreams are becoming a suburban reality

Claims that electric cars are only suitable for inner-city drivers have been overtaken by new data showing that suburbs have become hotspots for the transport technology.

Analysis of Tesla and BYD car sales released by the Electric Vehicle Council on Monday showed that metropolitan suburbs are leading the race to electric, accounting for more than two in five battery-powered cars sold, followed by areas closer to the cities.

Car buyers in regional and rural Australia are still slower to adopt the technology, but drivers in both areas have invested in thousands of electric cars in the past year.

The data comes days after electric vehicles recorded their highest sales yet in Australia and amid a heated debate over the introduction of a vehicle efficiency standard that could encourage brands to import more low-emission cars into the country.

The analysis of sales of Australia’s two largest electric car makers found that suburban motorists in the metropolitan suburbs bought more than 26,000 battery-powered vehicles last year, or more than 43 percent of all electric car sales.

Households in inner-city areas purchased almost 39 percent of electric cars (over 23,000), followed by households in regional areas (5,583) and rural areas (5,193).

Electric Vehicle Council CEO Behyad Jafari said the findings could change the assumptions of some in the auto industry.

“I think some tired stereotypes about electric cars in Australia need to be updated,” he said.

“EVs are not new – they are now a mainstream Australian suburban reality and that trend will only continue.”

Mr Jafari said the data analysis showed some Australians living further away from the city saw more benefits from the technology which could reduce their fuel costs and allow them to go camping or boating on weekends.

“We are seeing a huge uptake of EVs in middle-income suburbs, including a strong uptake in western Sydney,” he said.

“Suburban EV buyers who are sensitive to the cost of living will rejoice in no longer having to worry about foreign oil peaks or expensive regular repairs and services.”

Electric vehicles have long been popular on the outskirts of major Australian cities, but registration data collected by the Australian Automobile Association shows the vehicles have become common in areas outside Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane since last year.

The Electric Vehicle Council’s findings also come less than a week after new electric cars recorded record sales in February, accounting for 9.6 percent of all new vehicles, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The more than 10,000 electric cars sold during the month included strong sales of Tesla’s Model 3, which became the third best-selling model in Australia.

The data also comes as the federal government considers the composition of its New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, scheduled for January 2025, following a public consultation.

However, a debate rages among automakers over the details of the standard, with Tesla and Polestar recently resigning from the auto industry over their lobbying efforts against the government’s preferred model.

TOP ZIP CODES FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLE REGISTRATION

1. Victoria 3030 (southwest Melbourne): 427 vehicles

2. NSW 2113 (North Sydney): 420 vehicles

3. NSW 2155 (North West Sydney): 418 vehicles

4. Queensland 4217 (Gold Coast): 369 vehicles

5. Queensland 4069 (Brisbane west): 350 vehicles

6. Victoria 3029 (southwest Melbourne): 344 vehicles

7. Victoria 3150 (southeast Melbourne): 342 vehicles

8. NSW 2045 (Western Sydney): 336 vehicles

9. NSW 2153 (North West Sydney): 335 vehicles

10. NSW 2020 (inner city Sydney): 309 vehicles

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