Australians choose hybrids over EVs as sales of conventional cars decline

<span>Sales of EVs now made up 8.70% of the market, while hybrids jumped to 11.95% in the first quarter of 2024.</span><span>Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP</span>
Sales of EVs now made up 8.70% of the market, while hybrids jumped to 11.95% in the first quarter of 2024.Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Australians are choosing hybrid over electric vehicles, but sales of both continue to climb while internal combustion engines record a decline.

Hybrids outsold EVs in three consecutive quarters with 95,129 sales – overtaking 69,593 EVs sold, according to the Australian Automobile Association’s quarterly EV Index released on Tuesday night.

The data also reinforced a recent trend of declining sales of conventional cars, which have fallen by 8.03% in the fourth quarter of 2023 to the first quarter of 2024. Their market share also dropped to 78.18%, sinking below 80% for the first time.

Related: ‘No longer a novelty’: massive rise in Australian EV sales, industry report finds

EVs rose to 8.70% market share in this time, while hybrids jumped to 11.95% – up from 6.26% in the first quarter of 2023.

“People are wanting to go into that lower cost, lower emissions motoring, but they just don’t think they are ready for the full EV experience,” Australian Automotive Dealer Association boss James Voortman said.

Premium prices amid a cost of living crisis, as well as a lack of recharging infrastructure, are the main concerns stopping consumers from making the transition to EVs, he said.

Three in five consumers are “less open to paying more money for an electric vehicle due to the current cost of living pressures,” Voortman said, pointing to AADA survey results released in February.

“During this time where everything is costing more” it can be more difficult for consumers to look beyond an EV’s upfront price premium and towards fuel savings, he said.

Charging infrastructure is “no doubt” another concern.

“There is a growing acceptance that you can do a lot of your charging at home, but not everyone has access to home charging,” Voortman said.

“I think as the infrastructure rolls out, we will see more and more people willing to take up an electric vehicle.”

The specific types of vehicles available can also pose as a barrier for consumers in need of a larger vehicle, like a ute, van or SUV are an affordable price point.

“It is going to take time for those vehicles to arrive,” Voortman said.

In the meantime, “hybrid technology [is] a stepping stone,” Voortman said.

While “there is no doubt that driving a hybrid is a lot more friendly for the environment than a pure petrol or diesel vehicle”, it is also “a lot more affordable for those customers”.

“There are significant benefits for for both customers but also for the environment,” Voortman said.

“There is no doubt the future is fully electric and zero emissions motoring, but there is going to be a bit of a journey to get there.”

“Hybrids are a good stepping stone to that future.”