Though the Australian electric car market has not received governmental incentives or support, we continue to witness an increase in the number of electric cars sold. In 2019, Australia's electric vehicles accounted for 0.6% of the total car sales. Thought this might seem low, the positive takeaway was the reduction in diesel and petrol vehicle sales by 7.8% in the same period.
Is this why car companies chose to come up with electrification strategies for the Australian market? We can say yes and no. No, because even without the dip in diesel and petrol vehicles, the world will still go electric, and car manufacturers do not fancy being left behind. And yes, because failing to go electric will result in future losses for car manufacturers.
Is It Too Early for Mercedes to Come Up with This Strategy?
Electric car sales in Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, and China accounted for 25%, 56%, 15%, and 4.7% of total car sales in 2019, respectively. This came after government-backed incentives for EVs that made diesel and petrol cars less attractive for manufacturers.
Recently, Britain announced a total ban on petrol, diesel, and hybrid vehicles beginning in 2035. One thing that all these countries share is a resolve by the government to ease the transition to electric cars by establishing a network of public charging stations nationwide. So, is it too early for Australia because the necessary infrastructure has not yet spanned the whole country? The answer is NO! Let me explain.
1. There has been an increase in incentives from private corporations.
For one, EV advocates continue to advise the government on how to ease the transition to electric cars. Infrastructure Australia has been calling out for the expedited roll-out of nationwide charging systems. NRMA has committed $10 million to build a mega EV-charging network of more than 40 charge stations across NSW.
Currently, there are around 2,000 public charging stations in the country. The government, through ARENA, launched the country’s first ultra-fast charging network powered by renewables last year. In South Australia, you will find Tesla's 'big battery', which is the world's largest lithium-ion battery, and this too is powered by renewable energy. You may want to read more about our answers to frequently-asked questions about EVs in another article.
2. In 2019, e-cars were estimated to be cheaper than regular vehicles by 2022.
By 2019, electric vehicles had become way less expensive than they were in 2017. The reason? The falling price of lithium-ion batteries. A few years ago, batteries accounted for almost half the price of the car. Now they account for only about 33%, and this figure is set to drop to about 20% by 2025.
Though only four plug-in hybrid variants have been made available by Mercedes in Australia, the company plans to have 20 electrified EQ power variants in the international market by the end of 2020. The available models in Australia are the E300e large sedan, A250e hatch, and the C300e mid-sized sedan. In an effort to go full electric, they recently introduced the EQC 400 mid-size SUV.
The Mercedes Benz Australian Strategy
Mercedes's game plan is to introduce electrification technology gradually. They want to make sure that consumers are familiar with their electric models as they introduce them, rather than flooding them with fully-electric models without them having a feel of what it's like driving one. That is why they have fielded the plug-in hybrid variants.
Their compact 1.3-litre-powered PEV models come with large electric batteries with 48-volt onboard power systems. Mercedes says the 48-volt power system eliminates the need to carry a separate 12-volt power system for the starter motor.
Their decision to use larger, heavier battery packs was influenced by the need to ensure the batteries were sufficient for all types of journeys. They claim a 50km electric range is adequate for 90% of the trips. The 1.3-litre PEV runs 77 km on electric batteries, while larger longitudinal models would go as far as 106 km.
In the future, they plan on introducing features like EQ power, which integrates into systems like the car's GPS and data systems. These features are available for European models, but since they are market or model dependent, they may not be immediately available in Australia.
What does this mean?
We are going to witness a surge in the number of electric cars in the Australia soon. It only takes one step, and I feel that this step by Mercedes is what Australia needs. So start embracing electric cars as early as now.
And in case you need Mercedes Benz spare parts, you can check out Carpart.com.au. It has some handy tools too for finding auto parts, repair shops, and automotive professionals. Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, this website is for you! We will keep you posted about the electric car market, including highlights on new entrants in the market.
By Eric Anyega