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Electric vehicle sales reached a new peak in 2023, yet there are currently no electric utility vehicles in sight.

In 2023, Australia witnessed a remarkable surge in electric vehicle (EV) sales, reaching an unprecedented high of 87,000 units, nearly tripling from the previous year. Despite this notable achievement, there remains a conspicuous void in the market - the absence of electric utility vehicles (utes). This disparity was highlighted alongside the latest EV sales figures, which also saw a substantial increase in market share, climbing from 3% to 7.2% as total car sales hit a record-breaking 1.2 million vehicles. Released by VFACTS, these figures marked a significant moment for the EV industry, albeit with mixed feelings.

The Tesla Model 3, which made headlines in 2022 by outselling the Toyota Camry, continued its dominance in 2023, selling 70% more units than the Camry and emerging as the top-selling sedan in Australia. However, with the introduction of Tesla's mass-market electric SUV, the Model Y, the Model 3 experienced declining sales throughout the year. The Model Y, on the other hand, secured the title of the best-selling EV in Australia for 2023 and ranked sixth overall in vehicle sales. Despite its success, the Model Y narrowly missed clinching the top spot in its SUV segment.

Tesla sold 30,000 electric SUVs in 2023, posing a close competition to the Toyota RAV4, the best-selling SUV overall. However, traditional fuel-powered utes like the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, and Isuzu D-Max continued to dominate the market, collectively accounting for 12.7% of total vehicle sales. Toyota, acknowledging the significance of this sales achievement, attributed its success to its "multipath" approach to vehicle sales, offering a variety of powertrains. However, the top-selling utes are only available with combustion engines, contributing to high CO2 emissions ranging from 192gm/km to 378gm/km.

Despite the surging demand for utes, the lack of electric options exacerbates Australia's vehicle emissions problem, as highlighted by the National Transport Commission's report. The report revealed that while EV sales increased, emissions from popular vehicles like utes remained high, with no electric alternative available. Although attempts were made to introduce electric utes, such as LDV's eT60, their limited towing capacity and high price deterred buyers. Rumors persist about the introduction of more powerful electric utes, but no confirmed plans have been announced by manufacturers like LDV and GWM.

In contrast, Chinese EV brands like BYD and MG are gaining traction in the Australian market, with models such as the BYD Atto 3 and MG4 making significant sales contributions. BYD surpassed Tesla in global EV sales in 2023, showcasing its commitment to electrification. While MG is making moderate progress in the EV market, Volvo stands out with its ambition to become a fully all-electric car company in Australia by 2026. In 2023, more than a third of Volvo's vehicle sales were electric, signaling a significant shift towards electrification in the automotive industry.

Looking at the EV sales at the state level in Australia, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) remains a frontrunner in electric vehicle (EV) sales, with nearly one in five cars sold in 2023 being EVs. This is attributed to incentives such as two years of free registration and access to $15,000 interest-free loans for EV purchases.

New South Wales (NSW) also surpassed the national average, achieving a 7.7% market share for EVs. Although NSW's $3,000 EV rebate ended in December 2023, the influx of around 40 new EV models in 2024 suggests that the rebate achieved its goal of encouraging carmakers to introduce more options.

Queensland, which offers a $6,000 EV rebate, saw a 7.1% market share for EVs.

However, despite Victoria's discontinuation of a punitive EV road use tax in October, EV uptake remained lower at 6.7%. Victoria had offered a $3,000 rebate until the end of June 2023, which has since been discontinued.

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