Electric vehicle buyers say they are on year-long waiting lists because cars are being sent to Europe or New Zealand due to Australia’s lax vehicle emissions standards.
- Waiting times for electric vehicles have ballooned in Australia with transport experts blaming supply constraints
- Industry experts say Australia needs tougher emission standards for petrol vehicles so electric cars can be made more affordable
- Buyers find they are unable to change their minds on a car because of the time they have lost waiting
Buyers are placing the blame on what they say is an outdated federal government policy that favours petrol engines.
The auto industry has been calling for standards to prevent Australia from becoming a dumping ground for old polluting models and allowing dealers access to EVs only seen in Europe and the US.
Daniel Ferrell has been waiting on a Kia EV6 since May and says his car dealer has prepared him for another six-month delay.
“It’s extremely frustrating. I’m disappointed I might be waiting longer than a year now,” he said.
“It’s obviously pretty frustrating … delivery times overseas compared to delivery times here, and it all comes down to the emission standards.
“[Kia] announced at the start of the year they’re going to ship 300 [EV6s] to Australia in total for the year … but then you look at something like the United States that got shipped 2,500 in one month alone.”
Mr Ferrell said the new Labor government’s EV policy poured petrol on the fire of demand without addressing supply issues.
“I was pretty sceptical when it was announced as part of their election promise,” he said.
The Labor government took a policy to the election that proposed a reduction in the luxury car tax, import tariffs, and removal of the Fringe Benefits Tax for fleet buyers.
“It made it harder for a consumer now to buy an electric car because it just increased demand by incentivising corporate and government fleets to start purchasing electric cars,” Mr Ferrell said.
In September, the government announced a white paper investigating the introduction of emissions standards that would cap the total emissions from cars sold by a manufacturer.
Buyers face ‘financial penalty’ for waiting
Mr Ferrell also put a deposit on a Toyota BZ4X EV, which had not been released in Australia yet.
“We obviously want to get an electric car not only because it financially benefits us with rising fuel costs, and we have solar panels on the house so most of the charging could almost be for free, but also for the environment and for the future,” he said.
“If this was back in the day when you could just order a car and have it within a couple of weeks, I’d own the car now.
“I’d also have it for seven or eight grand cheaper by now because I’ve had to wait for so long I also have to suffer financial penalty.”
Demand but no supply
Erin Jones has been waiting years to finally own an electric vehicle and said the new government’s electric car discount inspired her to jump at buying a much-dreamt-about EV.
But supply constraints had left her waiting for her BYD Atto 3 and she had no idea when she would receive her car.
“I think it’s more a supply side issue, I don’t know if they need to keep incentivising demand as demand is there,” she said.
Ms Jones said emissions standards would have seen more cars on the road in Australia more quickly.
“The people who were going to buy were probably going to buy anyway,” she said.
“I think there is still a place for some support for consumers to move into this, but I don’t think that that should be the major mechanism lever.”
Her message to the government was to be bold with the new vehicle emissions standards.
“They can’t move incrementally from where they are,” Ms Jones said.
“They need to be on par with the world’s best so that manufacturers see this market, which is not a very big market by volume, but they see it as a viable market, and as soon as that happens then we’re going to start seeing more vehicles.”
Stuck between a rock and a hard waiting list
Ms Jones said the long wait had left her accepting many things that might have been deal breakers on a new car.
“I think that’s a dilemma that many BYD auto holders are facing at the moment around the warranty issues and safety rating issues, better going with the devil I know,” she said.
“Does it get to the point where you go, ‘I’m not prepared to proceed’ and then you go back to the back of another queue?”
‘No time to muck around’, says EV Council
Behyad Jafari from the Electric Vehicles Council of Australia said emissions standards were long overdue.
“The reality is most of the developed world, but Australia and Russia, actually have rules in place that tell car companies, you can sell whatever car you want, but inside of that line-up, you also have to sell things like fuel-efficient vehicles or electric vehicles, you have to make your latest and best products available here,” Mr Jafari said.
He said now that parliament had passed laws making EVs cheaper, fuel standards must be next.
“This isn’t something that we have years to muck around with, now we need to very quickly develop it, get it legislated and get it passed,” Mr Jafari said.
“What we’ve seen so far is a government that gets it and has moved very quickly.”
He said there were promising signs with the pace the government was moving, while also including consultation time with the auto industry in planning.
“So they’re certainly approaching this in the right way now, and we’ll certainly be keeping up with them and making sure that that momentum continues,” Mr Jafari said.
A spokesperson for the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said the federal government was working to establish a national Electric Vehicle Strategy to improve the uptake of new low-emissions vehicles.
“As part of that work, we have sought views on implementing vehicle fuel efficiency standards in Australia,” they said.
“The market is showing Australians want EVs but supply is currently constrained.
“Further consultation will be undertaken on detailed design features of a potential vehicle fuel efficiency standard.”
The ABC has approached Kia and BYD for a comment but none was provided before deadline.