Why electric car dreams are becoming ‘suburban reality’

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

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

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

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

The analysis of sales from Australia’s two top electric car manufacturers showed drivers in outer metropolitan suburbs purchased more than 26,000 battery-powered vehicles in the past year, or more than 43 per cent of all EVs sold.

Households in inner-city areas bought almost 39 per cent of electric cars (more than 23,000), followed by those in regional areas (5583) and rural locations (5193).

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said the findings could change assumptions held by some people in the automotive industry.

“I think some tired stereotypes about EVs in Australia will need to updated,” he said.

“EVs are not novel – they are now a suburban mainstream Australian reality and that trend is only set to continue.”

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

“We’re seeing massive EV uptake in middle-income outer suburbs, including strong uptake across western Sydney,” he said.

“Suburban EV buyers who are sensitive to the cost of living will be looking forward to no longer worrying about foreign oil spikes or costly regular repairs and services.”

Electric vehicles have long been popular in outer suburban areas of major Australian cities, however, with registration data gathered by the Australian Automobile Association showing 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 registered record sales during February, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, representing 9.6 per cent of all new vehicles.

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

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

Debate has raged between car makers over the details of the standard, however, with Tesla and Polestar recently resigning from the automotive industry body over its lobbying efforts against the government’s preferred model.


1. Victoria 3030 (south-west 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 (south-west Melbourne): 344 vehicles

7. Victoria 3150 (south-east Melbourne): 342 vehicles

8. NSW 2045 (west Sydney): 336 vehicles

9. NSW 2153 (north-west Sydney): 335 vehicles

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

Source: Australian Automobile Association, January 2023


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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