A surge of electric vehicles set to hit Aussie streets in 2020

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 01 June 2019

Sparks fly for electric vehicles as top car makers announce electricification plans.

It might have taken a little longer for electric vehicles to power up in Australia but, with the top car manufacturers unveiling their electrification strategies for 2019 and beyond, it seems battery-powered, electric and low-emissions options are set to predominate the road ahead. Here is what to expect from the top 10 car brands in the country. 

Side on aview of a red Toyota Prius hybrid car


Electric vehicle strategies of Australia’s top 10 car brands 


Toyota

Toyota is a leader in low-emissions vehicles, with its commitment to petrol-electric hybrid technology that started with the original game-changing Prius back in 2001. As part of the company’s global electrification strategy, Toyota is aiming for all Toyota vehicles and sites to be zero emissions by 2050. However, it is not relying solely on one alternative powertrain option to reduce its fleet emissions, preferring instead to take a “holistic” approach. 

Toyota says it will roll out more hybrid, as well as plug-in hybrid, battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the next decade, with plans for all global model lines to be electrified by 2025. That means there will at least be a hybrid version of each of its models by that time.

In Australia, the company says that at this stage, it has no plans to introduce a plug-in battery electric vehicle, adding that “significant investment in charging infrastructure and solutions to power supply issues in Australia are required before the mass introduction and adoption of EVs in the market can become a reality”.

Toyota currently offers six hybrid models – the Prius, Prius C and V, Corolla, Camry and new RAV4 – but this is likely to increase. While Toyota is yet to confirm it, expect a hybrid version of the C-HR crossover and all-new Kluger in the next couple of years.

Where fuel is not produced by renewables, such as coal, then EVs produce more C02 than Mazda’s highly efficient range of SkyActiv engines, which offer excellent real-world emission performance.


Mazda

Mazda was relatively late to the party compared with its rivals when it announced its global electrification strategy in October last year.The Japanese car-maker confirmed it would roll out some form of electrification for all production models by 2030, with five per cent of its line-up to be full BEV by that time.

Mazda’s Australian arm is in no hurry to launch an electric vehicle, but it is something it will consider. According to the company’s marketing director Alastair Doak, a BEV only makes sense if it “delivers a tangible benefit to our customers and the environment”. 

“Mazda considers the full well-to-wheel impact of vehicles,” he says. “Where fuel is not produced by renewables, such as coal, then EVs produce more C02 than Mazda’s highly efficient range of SkyActiv engines, which offer excellent real-world emission performance. And there is more internal combustion efficiency gains to be made. Mazda will launch the SkyActiv-X engine later this year and it will be the most efficient gasoline engine yet.”

TheA bright blue Hyundai Ioniq small liftback parked in front of a timber-paneled building

The Hyundai Ioniq small liftback comes in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric options.


Interior of a Toyota Prius that shows the car using electric power mode.

Toyota currently has six hybrid models – the Prius (above), Prius C and V, Corolla, Camry and RAV4. 



Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi was another early starter in the electric vehicle space, with its tiny and expensive iMiEV city car that was launched in mid-2011 before being dropped just two years later due to slow sales.

However, Mitsubishi offers one of the highest-selling electrified models in Australia in the Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) SUV. The company has revealed several concept cars in recent years that feature electrified powertrains, but it has so far been quiet on its future plans.

Mitsubishi is now part of the massive Renault-Nissan Alliance, which announced in 2017 that it would launch 12 pure electric models across its various global brands, using a common EV platform.

Mitsubishi’s Australian EV plans are yet to be announced.

Hyundai

Hyundai’s low-emission vehicles fall under its ‘Blue Drive’ umbrella and the Korean car-maker has already made its presence felt in Australia with a number of offerings.

Late last year it launched the Ioniq small liftback in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric guise, the latter of which is currently the most affordable battery electric vehicle in Australia at $44,990 plus on-road costs.

Ford has upped its investment in electric vehicles to $11 billion (USD) in the next five years with the aim of having 24 hybrid and 16 fully electric vehicles in its global model portfolio by 2022.


In March it added the Kona Electric small SUV that has an impressive 449km real-world driving range, and it will officially launch the Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell-powered SUV later this year, despite a lack of refuelling stations in Australia. An updated version of the Ioniq range will also lob later this year. 

More electrified models are expected in the coming years, but Hyundai Australia is keeping its cards close to its chest on exactly what the models will be.

Ford

Ford has upped its investment in electric vehicles to $11 billion (USD) in the next five years with the aim of having 24 hybrid and 16 fully electric vehicles in its global model portfolio by 2022. Of those models, Ford’s local arm says it will bring “those that meet the needs of Australian customers to local showrooms”. 

The first cab off the rank is the plug-in hybrid version of the new-generation Escape medium SUV that will arrive Down Under in 2020 with a 55km electric range.

The Blue Oval says that it is a “certainty” that there will be more electrified offerings in Australia in the coming years, but a spokesperson added that the Australian market “is unique in its level of hyper-competitiveness, and there’s also currently flux on the regulations surrounding EVs that will influence what we bring to market”.

Globally, Ford announced at last year’s Detroit motor show that it would launch an all-electric Mustang-inspired SUV that, at the time, was dubbed Mach 1. It also sold a fully electric version of the previous Focus in the US but this has been dropped for the new-generation model.

Close up of hyprid car badge on white Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai's Ioniq hybrid.


Side view of a white 2017 Ford Escape Titanium

Ford Escape Titanium medium SUV.


Kia

Kia Australia has elected to skip hybrids and plug-in hybrids and will instead dive straight into battery electric vehicles as part of its low-emission vehicle strategy.

The company’s chief operating officer Damien Meredith confirmed in March that it would launch the e-Niro small crossover and the fully electric version of the new-generation Soul in January next year, in time for the Australian Open tennis championship of which it is the main sponsor.

Mr Meredith said the coming Kia EVs would be “exceptionally well-priced”. A further two battery electric models are in development and being considered for an Australian launch.

Globally, Kia plans to launch 44 electrified models – which includes hybrids and plug-in hybrids as well – by 2025.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen significantly ramped up its development of low-emissions vehicles in the wake of the diesel emissions cheating scandal from 2015.

Since then, the German giant has invested heavily in its electrification strategy, with 44 billion euros earmarked for the development of electric vehicles, autonomous technology and new mobility services by 2023.

In Australia, Nissan announced last year that it would electrify one third of its model line-up as part of its local mid-term plan.

VW has already revealed a number of concept cars that will fall under its ‘ID’ sub-brand of battery electric production vehicles. VW Australia says some of these vehicles, including the Golf-sized ID.3 hatch, will start to arrive in Australia after launching in Europe, China and the US. So expect the local roll out to kick off from about 2022.

The company is hoping to offer electric passenger and commercial vehicles that will be priced in line with equivalent petrol and diesel models from 2022, but a representative said this timing could push out given “the lack of clear and detailed government policy”.

Other ID models include the ID Buzz, a modern take on the iconic Kombi, the ID Crozz SUV and the ID Vizzion premium sedan.

Nissan

Nissan announced in its mid-term plan last year that it aims to sell one million electrified vehicles annually by 2022. The plan includes eight new pure electric models, including an all-electric crossover based on its IMx concept from the 2017 Tokyo motor show.

In Australia, Nissan announced last year that it would electrify one third of its model line-up as part of its local mid-term plan.

As well as the second-generation Leaf electric hatchback that launches in August, Nissan will add other models with electrified powertrains. The Japanese car-maker is yet to officially announce it, but that is likely to include a number of its e-Power models.

The e-Power system has similar technology to Holden’s Volt in that it uses a petrol engine to charge the battery. The wheels are driven solely by the electric motor, unlike in a traditional petrol-electric hybrid powertrain where the wheels are driven by the electric motor and the engine.

Nissan is expected to announce more e-Power models globally and for Australia in the coming years. Last year, the Note e-Power, a light hatchback not sold in Australia, was the best-selling vehicle in Japan.

Blue Ford Escape SUV parked in front of a geometric yellow sculpture.

A plug-in hybrid version of Ford's new-generation Escape medium SUV will arrive in Australia in 2010.


Holden

Holden’s parent company General Motors has announced its plans to bring at least 20 new fully electric vehicles globally – with a big focus on the US and China – to market by 2023.

In some markets it offers the Chevrolet Bolt BEV hatch and the Volt range-extender plug-in, but GM has confirmed that production of the latter model will cease this year. The Volt was sold in Australia with Holden badges from 2012 to 2015 but was dropped due to slow sales.

While Holden is yet to announce any firm plans for EVs in Australia, a spokesperson for the brand pointed towards GM’s global EV strategy and “Holden’s ability to readily tap into that technology as the Australian and NZ market evolves”.

Honda

Honda has set a target for 100 per cent of its model lines to have some form of electrification by 2025 in Europe, but the Australian targets are a little more conservative. The Japanese car-maker was one of the pioneers in the hybrid space, launching the quirky Insight back in 2000, followed by a number of other hybridised models that have since been discontinued.

The Australian target is for 25 per cent of its line-up to be electrified via hybrid or BEV by 2025. The first model in this next phase of Honda’s electrification strategy will be the Accord sedan that’s due to arrive later this year.

Honda Australia has called for more government support, incentives and direction on C02 regulations.