A surge of electric vehicles set to hit Aussie streets in 2020
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.
Electric vehicle strategies of Australia’s top 10 car brands
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 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.”
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’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 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.