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Has Australia finally embraced EVs? Hybrid, PHEV and BEV sales boom Down Under

Australia has embraced electrification.

Australians have embraced electrification like never before, with 2020 seeing record sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles - led by the insurmountable popularity of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Corolla Hybrid and the Tesla Model 3.

In a new-car market that shrunk by 13.7 per cent - down to 916,968 sales in 2020 - electrified vehicles entirely defied the downturn, piling on sales across the board.

Leading the charge - bad pun intended - is Toyota, with the unbelievable success of the Japanese brand's hybrid portfolio crushing all comers.

Hybrid sales went up some 93.7 per cent to 60,417 vehicles in 2020, compared to just 31,991 in 2019. But even more staggering is that Toyota is responsible for 54,335 - or around 90 per cent - of them.

The big movers for the Japanese brand were the RAV4 Hybrid (26,400 sales), the Corolla Hybrid (13,943) the Camry Hybrid (9615) and the C-HR (2819).

“For me, the most significant sales achievement for the year for Toyota was that Australian motorists bought our hybrid vehicles in record numbers,” says Toyota Australia’s sales and marketing chief, Sean Hanley.

PHEV vehicles - or hybrids with a plug - also saw a marked increase - though obviously from a smaller base - with sales increasing from 1426 units in 2019 to 1685 sales in 2020 - a jump off 18.2 per cent.

Fully electric vehicles, or BEVs, shot up 16.2 per cent in 2020, with 1769 units sold, up from 1523 in 2019. And that's not including Tesla - Elon Musk's company doesn't publicly report its local sales figures - so doesn't count the popular Model 3 in those totals. Some reports have Tesla delivering 2949 vehicles to Australia in 2020, of which 90 per cent were the Model 3.

The results inspired FCAI chief executive to describe electrified vehicles as "the future", with the head of Australia's chief auto industry body again slamming proposed state-level EV taxes.

"The figures send a clear message that low emissions vehicles are on the way, and are part of the future," he said.

“With this in mind, perhaps the state governments could stop slapping random taxes on vehicles, and instead encourage the adoption of this emerging technology."