Electric vehicles you’ll be driving in 2019
Australia is hopping on board the electric vehicle bandwagon.
Australians have taken a while to warm to the idea of battery electric vehicles (BEV), but 2019 is a key year in the rollout of green automotive alternatives.
Much of Western Europe has embraced electric vehicles, largely on the back of increasingly strict emissions regulations that have forced car-makers to redeploy their development spend from large-capacity petrol and diesel engines in favour of smaller, more efficient internal combustion engines, and zero-emission electric powertrains.
Countries such as the Netherlands introduced consumer incentives, including the exemption of registration and road taxes, years ago to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles (EV). The country also has the highest ratio of charging points to electric vehicles in the world.
China, Japan, and parts of the United States and Canada all have incentive programs and a growing charging network, but Australia is still well behind, with the federal government not offering any buyer incentives or support for charging infrastructure.
Most major car-makers have announced their global electrification strategy and many of them have committed to offering zero-emission vehicles in Australia.
EVs are expected to remain more expensive than their petrol or diesel counterparts for at least a few years to come, but many industry observers point to mid-next decade as the ‘tipping point’ when an EV will likely cost the same as an equivalent petrol or diesel vehicle.
Judging by new-vehicle sales, Australians still love a petrol engine, and the rise of dual-cab utes proves that they also love a big diesel engine.
But interest in EVs is slowly growing. We have detailed a list of what EVs to expect in dealerships in 2019.
EVs to expect to see available in 2019
Hyundai Kona Electric
Hyundai is powering ahead with its electrification plans. Last year, the bullish Korean car-maker launched what is currently the most affordable fully electric vehicle available in Australia – the $44,990 (plus on-road costs) Ioniq Electric.
The company followed this up with the launch of the Kona Electric in March this year. Based on the Kona small SUV, the Kona Electric is offered in Elite ($59,990) and Highlander ($64,490) guise and is packed with standard comfort and safety features
The Kona Electric is powered by a 150kW/395Nm electric motor paired with a 356-volt lithium-ion polymer battery with a capacity of 64 kilowatt hours. It has a driving range of 449 kilometres on the ‘real-world’ Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which is more than its cheaper Ioniq stablemate (230 kilometres).
It might be expensive for a small SUV, particularly given the top-of-the-range petrol-powered Kona is $20,000 cheaper, but it is much more affordable than the premium electric offerings expected this year.
The Jaguar I-Pace (pictured avove) technically launched in December last year, but deliveries ramped up at the start of 2019.
The all-electric crossover has won dozens of international accolades since its launch, most notably World Car of the Year, and it has been widely praised for its striking design and its sporty performance.
In Australia, the I-Pace ranges in price from $119,000 to $159,700, which is double the cost of the more mainstream Hyundai Kona Electric.
The I-Pace is powered by two permanent magnet synchronous electric motors mounted on opposing axles, which drives all four wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission.
It can dash from 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds and has an impressive 470 kilometres of driving range, according to real-world WLTP standards.
Mercedes Benz EQC
Mercedes-Benz will ramp up its electrified offerings in the coming years with seven new models that will fall under its recently launched ‘EQ’ electric vehicle umbrella.
First cab off the rank will be the EQC medium SUV that will hit Australian shores in October this year. Pricing and specification is yet to be announced, but it is likely to slip in under $150,000.
The EQC will compete against Tesla’s pioneering Model X SUV that has been on sale in Australia since early 2017 as well as the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi’s forthcoming e-tron.
Mercedes-Benz Australia says it is holding a significant number of pre-orders for the EQC, meaning anyone who orders one now will have to wait until 2020 for delivery.
The EQC’s dual-motor setup delivers 300kW of power and 765Nm of torque. Its 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides more than 400 kilometres of driving range on the WLTP standard.
The world’s best-selling EV, the Nissan Leaf, will launch in second-generation guise in Australia in August this year.
Going on sale almost two years after it was revealed, the new Leaf will face a level of competition that its predecessor did not have to contend with.
Under the skin is a 110kW/320Nm electric motor and a 40kWh battery pack that makes for 270 kilometres of driving range on the WLTP standard.
Pricing is set at $49,990 plus on-road costs, which is $10,000 more than the old model, but $10,000 cheaper than the Kona Electric.
The Renault Zoe is already available throughout Victoria.