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The worst carmakers for EVs: the electric car tortoises, including Toyota, Ford, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Subaru and others, and what they're doing about it... EV-entually!

Some brands in Australia are either stalling or stuck in the slow lane on Electric Avenue, though most should catch up soon.

It seems that, whether you’re a new-car buyer or a carmaker, this decade’s must-have accessory is an electric vehicle (EV).

Figuring that out is not rocket science, especially as – for the first six months of this year – EVs are now outselling hybrids (including plug-in hybrid EVs – or PHEVs): 43,092 versus 41,845 (of which 3532 are PHEVs).

That’s an astonishing 345.2 per cent jump over last year’s 9680 units, underlining the fact that supply cannot keep up with demand, and driven by the introduction of the wildly-successful Tesla Model Y, as well as the popular BYD Atto 3.

With the latter brand’s new Dolphin from $38,890 taking on the $38,990 MG4 to snatch the crown as Australia’s cheapest-ever EV (for now), that sort of double and even triple-digit growth is only going to continue.

In the new-world order where brands did not even exist in this country ten years ago, it’s Tesla, BYD and MG, as well as Hyundai and Kia (and to a lesser extent, early-EV pioneers Nissan), that are setting the pace in 2023.

Which then begs the question: where are the other mainstream players and why are they lagging so far behind?

Let’s take a closer look at Australia’s popular, mainstream and affordable brands that are conspicuously absent from the booming EV scene, tallying how many of their global offerings are currently available or set for local launch soon.



Toyota only sells two EVs globally, the bZ4X mid-sized SUV as well as its bZX3 sedan sibling.

It’s ironic that the world’s largest carmaker and Australia’s number-one brand, Toyota, does not have a single EV in showrooms right now, despite almost single-handedly introducing the world to electrification via the Prius and its revolutionary petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.

That's Lexus' job for now, though the UX300e and RZ are hardly affordable.

But, like everything the company does, Toyota is taking the marathon and not the sprint race approach. It only sells two EVs globally, the bZ4X mid-sized SUV as well as its bZX3 sedan sibling, with the former heading here at the end of this year. Apparently...

Plus, after admitting to lagging behind the leaders earlier this year, it has revealed plans to launch 10 more EVs by 2026, while eventually moving to next-generation solid-state battery tech that dramatically increases range whilst cutting charge times.

Writing Toyota off as an EV slacker might be premature, then.



The Solterra is due to arrive late this year, with more models promised from about 2026.

Subaru's electric-car future seems to be a bit nebulous right now, but it's likely to remain inextricably linked with Toyota's, for Australia at least.

That means the Solterra, of course, which has been out for a while elsewhere. This is also due around the same time as its bZ4X twin (late this year, then), with more models promised from about 2026.



The Airtrek is for now a China-only joint-venture model with GAC.

Australia’s number-six brand by volume was actually our first modern-era supplier of EVs, launching the now-forgotten i-MiEV (for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) city car in 2011. That’s a year before Nissan’s Leaf.

And it’s been crickets ever since. Discontinued in 2013 due to low demand, Mitsubishi instead elected to go down the plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) route with the Outlander PHEV, easing consumers into the idea of electrification without the highly-publicised range-anxiety drawbacks of regular battery EVs – and in an SUV package that buyers actually wanted.

Now into its second generation, consistently strong sales made that the smart move, and there’s the smaller Eclipse Cross PHEV available since 2021 too.

But, today, Mitsubishi is just one cog in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, with no confirmed plans for an Australian-market EV assault at this stage. Any coming models may likely be rebadged Renault or Nissan EVs targeting Europe, or Japan domestic-market Kei cars like the recently-released eK X EV.

That’s a shame, because its first all-electric SUV unveiled at the end of 2021, the Airtrek, has the hallmarks of a brilliant career – lots of range, the right proportions and promised affordability. Strikingly styled, it is for now a China-only joint-venture model with GAC (Guangzhou Automobile Group). Gasp.

So much for being first. Please reconsider, Mitsubishi.



The Honda e has been aimed mainly at European and Japanese buyers.

Honda was the first carmaker in Australian motoring history with an electrified vehicle – the sleek two-seater Insight of 2001.

Not only did it beat Toyota’s Prius to market by six months, others followed later, with the Civic, Insight II, CR-Z and Jazz hybrids all breaking ground in their own ways in the dozen years that followed.

Earlier this year, Honda Australia announced that it is redoubling its hybrid efforts, with new-generation e:HEV tech proving a big hit in the HR-V, Civic and freshly-released ZR-V. The totally redesigned CR-V for 2024 is next.

The Prologue SUV has been developed in left-hand-drive for the North American market.

But there’s a price to be paid here, and that’s a big ‘No Thanks’ to the cute Honda e, a slightly post-modern-looking city-sized supermini EV aimed mainly at European and Japanese buyers. The same goes to the handsome Prologue SUV co-developed with General Motors and based on the coming Chevrolet Blazer for the North American market.

The Prologue would certainly find an audience in Australia, but no right-hand-drive availability and an anticipated lack of sufficient production capacity has put paid to that.

That all said, Honda reckons Australians will be better served with the coming raft of EVs set from about 2026, that are said to feature right-sized packaging and advanced tech that’s more suited to our tastes and conditions, respectively. One to watch.



The MX-30 is packaged to be an urban EV.

It might have a comically small range and now cost almost $70K, but the nearly-forgotten MX-30 oddball SUV is packaged to be an urban EV with a smaller battery that’s cheaper to buy, faster to charge and not as heavy.

There’s merit in that thinking, and at least one Japanese manufacturer is playing the comparatively affordable electric game in Australia – albeit in a very quiet and unusual way.

And, don’t worry, Mazda fans. The company has announced plans to introduce its next generation of EVs from about 2026, aimed right at the heart of the market using a new scalable architecture and advanced battery tech to help remedy range anxiety.



Variations of Lightning utes are likely to make their way to Australia.

Ford currently builds and sells two EVs worldwide – the successful Mustang Mach-E that’s about to launch in Australia, as well as the full-sized E-Transit Cargo van already in dealers.

With pricing kicking off from $80,000 and $105,000 respectively, both are niche specialty vehicles as well as toe-in-the-water exercises, ahead of the E-Puma small SUV, next-gen mid-sized e-Transit Connect and one other as-yet unannounced EV.

These will be the actual, relevant Ford EVs that Australians will be able to buy, and are expected to join the range from later next year or during 2025. The Blue Oval is promising to go big or go home, so don't be surprised if variations of Lightning utes eventually make their way down here too.

Not before time.

Oh, there's also the pretty Explorer EV for (and built by) Ford in Europe, but that's a non-starter for Australia.

Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist
Byron started his motoring journalism career when he joined John Mellor in 1997 before becoming a freelance motoring writer two years later. He wrote for several motoring publications and was ABC Youth radio Triple J's "all things automotive" correspondent from 2001 to 2003. He rejoined John Mellor in early 2003 and has been with GoAutoMedia as a senior product and industry journalist ever since. With an eye for detail and a vast knowledge base of both new and used cars Byron lives and breathes motoring. His encyclopedic knowledge of cars was acquired from childhood by reading just about every issue of every car magazine ever to hit a newsstand in Australia. The child Byron was the consummate car spotter, devoured and collected anything written about cars that he could lay his hands on and by nine had driven more imaginary miles at the wheel of the family Ford Falcon in the driveway at home than many people drive in a lifetime. The teenage Byron filled in the agonising years leading up to getting his driver's license by reading the words of the leading motoring editors of the country and learning what they look for in a car and how to write it. In short, Byron loves cars and knows pretty much all there is to know about every vehicle released during his lifetime as well as most of the ones that were around before then.
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