Electric Vehicles 2023

Doesn’t time fly. It was more than a year ago since I last poked my head above the parapet and regaled Cats with stories of the electric vehicle (EV) world. In this edition I won’t bother discussing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles because only six were imported into Australia in 2023.

For clarity, I offer up this EV overview only because it intrigues some Cats and irritates others. Also, this review refers to passenger cars only – alternate fuel trucks, trains, ships, aircraft and heavy equipment are another subject. The term EV refers to fully electric cars, not hybrids, unless specifically mentioned.

In 2023, new vehicle sales in Australia hit a record 1.2 million passenger vehicles of which 87,217 were EVs and 11,212 hybrids. EV sales were approaching triple the number sold in 2022. There were 99 different electric variants available in Australia (up from 70 in 2022) made up of 56 EVs and 43 hybrids.

VFACTS reports that the Tesla Model 3 outsold Toyota’s medium sedan mainstay (Camry) again and the Tesla Model Y was the third top-selling SUV of any type. Even Rolls Royce got in the game selling three of their all electric Spectre to Australians at $800k each (excluding owner specified options at additional cost).

What about elsewhere?

In the USA, EVs accounted for about 1.5m (9.7%) of the total 15.5m new passenger car sales for 2023.

It has been widely reported that Biden recently signed an order that will, unless modified, likely cause electric cars to make up the majority of US auto sales by 2032. The Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘Clean Cars’ rule is the strictest federal climate regulation ever issued for passenger cars and trucks — even though it offers manufacturers a slightly slower phase-in of pollution limits than the EPA had first proposed. Whether the regulation survives a Trump Presidency remains to be seen.

In Europe, EVs accounted for about 1.9m (14.4%) of the 13.2m new cars sold in 2023. It is noteworthy that in January 2024, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association reported EV sales were up 28% on January 2023.

In the UK, the Government zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate became law and by 2030, 80% of all new car sales in the UK must be zero emission and by 2035, 100% of all new car sales must be zero emission. The ban on diesel engine cars was pushed back to 2035 bringing the UK into line with other EU nations.

Canada has the same requirements.

So, that’s it. Officially, after 2035, you won’t be able to buy a new petrol or diesel passenger car in an EU member state. There are sure to be one or two laggards (looking at you, Italy) but the die is well and truly cast. Note that the zero emission passenger vehicle ban does not mean only EVs can be sold – hydrogen cars are also zero emission.

What about charging facilities for those cars I hear you say.

The EU has announced that by 2035 all EU member states must comply with the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation which mandates that at least one fast charging station of at least 150 kW be installed every 60 kilometres along the trans-European transport network.

That explains why BP recently announced plans to install 10,000 public fast chargers across Europe and the UK. Shell, Total, Repsol and others have similar plans plus the street networks being installed by local authorities in addition to those in commercial shopping centres and other public car parks etc. There is now a headlong rush to install public chargers are every opportunity.

Which brings us to an interesting point – what will happen to all the petrol stations?

It is self-evident that service stations, as we know them today, must diversify because EVs are not re-charged like a petrol car is usually refilled. That is, EVs are recharged like your mobile phone – you leave your car on charge overnight as you do with your phone. As you drive around during the day you give the EV a top up charge, whilst at the shops for example, as opposed to filling your ICE car petrol tank with 500kms of fuel and then driving to near empty over a week or two and then re-filling the tank.

With that change of practice in mind, petrol resellers are preparing to transition their facilities into EV fast-charging locations and hydrogen fuel retailers. In addition, those facilities will have neighbourhood stores, cafes and restaurants, a place to work, online delivery centres, and even small-scale utilities with solar generation and battery storage. Although near inconceivable today, these sites intend to become a destination rather than merely a location for a hasty transaction.

Planning for these changes is well advanced and most of the major petrol resellers have glossy stylised drawings on their websites of how their locations will look and operate in the future. Those companies have no intention of rolling over and dying in the EV onslaught. Of course, petrol and diesel will continue to be retailed (albeit diminishing availability) to serve the millions of ‘legacy’ ICE vehicles on the road.

So, what of Australia? Well, we are almost a decade behind Europe and the USA. Our take-up of EVs is reasonably strong (at ~8%) but we lag well behind with public re-charging facility rollout. Various sources estimate 1.5 million EVs will be on Australian roads by 2030 requiring 150k+ public charging facilities. We have some catching up to do because by the end of this year, the total number of public charging stations will be less than 2,500 across the country. Several organisations (NRMA etc) and businesses (EVX, Jolt, Evie etc) have plans to roll out many thousands more, but the roll out programs look relatively weak compared to the numbers required and the time scale.

Recent Australian data suggests that 90% of EV charging occurs at home and the number of public charging facilities need only be 10% of the total number of EVs – but the data is only a snapshot and will prove insufficient in the future. With most EVs in Australia costing well over $50k, those vehicles are mainly purchased, at the moment, by those with stronger personal finances and who are almost certainly homeowners who can afford the cost of a home DC charger.

One aspect Australia shares with Europe and elsewhere is that millions of Australians live in apartments and/or rent their houses. Some apartment dwellers or renters may have access to standard AC electricity for charging their EV, but this re-charge method is painfully slow. To date, building owners or landlords are reluctant to install charging ports and of course there are issues of general safety, and most catastrophic, fire. Thus, as affordability, acceptance and market penetration of EVs increases, fast power top-ups via public charging stations will be vital.

Australia is also slowly mirroring the EU and elsewhere with EV purchase subsidies. Every Australian State offers some form of subsidy and even the Commonwealth has a modest scheme. Therefore, subject to limitations, some buyers should be able to claim a rebate worth a few thousand dollars off their new EV purchase.

Over time of course, it remains to be seen whether rebates will continue to be offered. Governments reason that Australians will effectively be forced to buy EVs because manufacturers will cease to offer ICE cars (or at least, much of a selection). For example, in 2035 you may go to your Toyota dealer and find 17 EVs and only two ICE vehicles on offer. The ICE vehicles will be very basic as Australia is small in terms of global new car sales and, as our cars are right hand drive (RHD being only 25% of the global market anyway), it will simply be too expensive to manufacturer cars that comply with our design rules for the very limited sales volume. One of those ICE design rules refers to vehicle exhaust emissions which are being tightened progressively from 2028.

It is almost certain that by the late 2030s (and maybe before), new ICE passenger vehicles will be unavailable in Australia. From that point, EVs will represent well over 1 million sales per year.

Thus, buyers will be compelled to buy an EV and from the government’s perspective, there is no reason to continue offering a subsidy when they don’t need to. Moreover, second-hand EVs will also be readily available. For the recalcitrants, the sting in the tail will be they can expect ICE cars to be subject to heavy registration and insurance surcharges and petrol will be more heavily taxed. It is even possible (probable?) that all ICE passenger vehicles will be unregistrable from about 2050 except for limited use such as motoring club displays and other special purposes.

Finally, where will all this electricity come from? With an ever increasing population and millions of EVs on our roads, will we have the infrastructure to support the electricity demand? This is a topic that has been discussed at length on the Cat without resolution although many have voiced very valid concerns.

A CSIRO report from 2021 for the Australian Energy Market Operator concluded that EV energy consumption would reach 120,000 gigawatt hours if, by the mid-2040s, Australia’s (forecast) 18 million passenger cars were all electric by that time. That EV milestone is not certain to be achieved but 85% EV take-up by 2045 is definitely possible and the government’s stated goal is 100% passenger EV fleet by 2050.

I can only guess (and it is a guess), that government foresee many millions of dwellings with rooftop solar systems and apartment buildings with those clear solar panel windows. Those private systems will feed into the grid to support thousands of windmills and vast solar arrays. I can’t imagine what they will cost.

As it stands, governments of all political persuasions are determined to continue the advance towards EVs. I expect ICE cars will be a diminishing sight on our roads over the next twenty years with very limited petrol/diesel fuel being available from 2045, or you may even need specific ‘approval’ to buy it. But there can be no doubt a cultural shift is underway. Over the coming years the switch to zero emission passenger cars is a given and if you’re an investor, I respectfully submit you should already be looking where to invest your money to take advantage of the change.

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March 23, 2024 5:09 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that EVs will eventually make up c. 30% of the domestic vehicle market.

March 23, 2024 5:53 pm

These propositions sound feasible if you assume that EV is the way of auto propulsion in the future. Currently, there are too many problems associated with that development to persuade other than climate change enthusiasts, “early adopters”, & those disinclined to question the zeitgeist.

March 23, 2024 6:15 pm

The more pressing problem is
“How the hell is Australia to survive?”
No tax revenue from coal and gas exports!
We are a stupid fucking country to say the least!

Last edited 3 months ago by Rossini
March 23, 2024 7:32 pm

Forget the issues with charging what about insurance?

In the UK it is becoming very difficult and very expensive to insure an EV.

No 1 son works for an insurer here in Oz, and expects the same to happen here over a few years as the costs and risks are better known

Then there are insurers that have refused to insure body corporates for EV fires. Either it is excluded as an uninsurable event or the premium is eye watering if BCs want it included.

Wally Dali
Wally Dali
March 23, 2024 8:34 pm

Quite a cold slab of chutzpah, telling us that the Lizard People will force us to park up our gas bangers and buy buy buy into tiny, weak, rare earth burners, rearrange all movements and schedules to drip feed them with 100kg copper cables connected to low energy panels and turbines…
…so we should invest whatever e-scheckels were allowed to keep with the corporate conspirators in the most brazen forced transfer of wealth in the history of the first world?
Yeah nah, f#ck that. First up against the wall. HoP. Cold dead hands. Ride or Die.

Simon Morgan
Simon Morgan
March 23, 2024 8:35 pm

So, buy a proper diesel or petrol car late 2035, and store plenty of jerry cans of fuel. Nightmare averted. 🙂

another ian
another ian
March 23, 2024 9:34 pm

IIRC you miss that Toyota has a good start on “steering wheel on the right” as that is how Japan does it

Natural Instinct
Natural Instinct
March 24, 2024 1:53 am

How many of those 87,000 are private buys?
Not fleet buys especially government, or ASX companies boosting their green credentials.
Not novated leases especially for public servants ASX employees.

One federal public servant living in ACT told me how he got his new BMW SUV EV.
I got so angry with the amount of money I am subsidising him that I had to switch off.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
March 24, 2024 6:43 am

That explains why BP recently announced plans to install 10,000 public fast chargers across Europe and the UK. 

Interestingly BP has reversed course to some extent.

Asda Switches Off EV Chargers (22 Mar)

The Telegraph appears to have got the wrong end of the stick here. It is not Asda pulling the plug, but BP.

It is BP who operate the chargers, and they have to [pay] Asda to rent each bay. I have seen figures of £2K a month mentioned. Given the chargers are slow, it seems unlikely that BP could make any profit all, not least because of the maintenance problems frequently encountered.

It sounds though that BP is switching to a dedicated fast-charger network of their own. Perhaps Asda will put in chargers themselves since you’d think it would be logical to go down to the shops and plug in.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
March 24, 2024 7:16 am

It is almost certain that by the late 2030s (and maybe before), new ICE passenger vehicles will be unavailable in Australia. 

There’s the catch again. New vehicles.

Given the vast number of older and second hand cars on the road there would be a gigantic political problem trying to get ordinary people to give them up.

The EU has just floated a trial balloon idea of making it illegal to repair cars over 15 years old. I doubt that will get up as it would be extremely unpopular, but it’s illustrative of the problem the elites have. The dogs don’t like the dog food, and if you don’t feed them what they want they will find a way to feed themselves.

And that is something that no one has really explored. My view is that as soon as such limits come in there will be an amazing number of cheap second hand Chinese ICE cars being sold with 100 km on their clocks. The Chinese don’t care, they’ll feed the market with whatever we want, and all but a small minority want ICE cars. They might go for hybrids, but they’d have to do what the buyers want and be priced acceptably.

That raises another issue. If hybrids do sell then the elites won’t be able to shut down service stations, because hybrids use petrol or diesel. Therefore pure ICE drivers will always be able to find fuel to buy.

It’s a bit more difficult here since we are an island continent so it’d be harder for used cars to be traded to Australia, but in places like the EU and US there’d be no barrier to new ICE cars being brought in to Turkey or Mexico then sold “second hand” to eager buyers.

I don’t know how it will turn out but there’s a real revolt going on in punterland, and the politics are going to be interesting.

Say goodbye to choice in car buying (20 Mar)

The “Electric Vehicle Revolution” Is DOA (23 Dec)

(Powerline had another good essay on their ‘picks’ list, but I didn’t bookmark it and I can’t find it again. It was in similar vein to these two though, that I did read when they were posted.)

March 24, 2024 7:30 am

All current service stations have under ground storage tanks for fuel. Simply install diesel generators fed from their storage tanks which can supply electricity to both EV’s and the grid. Problem solved!

March 24, 2024 8:57 am

Don’t see the issue ref Left/Right hand drive. Europe has a mix of LHD/RHD sharing the roads as a matter of routine. Despite people thinking it’s crazy dangerous and cats and dogs will live together in the insanity sure to follow, in reality it’s no biggie if LHD’s start populating Australian roads in higher concentrations.

March 24, 2024 9:40 am

hydrogen cars are also zero emission.?

Technically, no.
They pump out water vapour which is the most common and most important greenhouse gas.
This has always amused me, imagine if tomorrow morning all vehicles were hydrogen powered. Every city would be enveloped in a rush hour fog created by a highly volatile fleet of cars, buses and trucks. At least driving may improve as the result of a bingle could mean a grenade going off as well as the air bags.

March 24, 2024 11:56 am

Have a look at how hydrogen is made, stored and transported in industrial scales. Then come back and tell me how “environmentally friendly” it is.

March 24, 2024 12:25 pm

Ab EV may well be an option for a wealthy suburban family, but apart from the obvious disadvantages for tradies, I cannot imagine a mother with a screaming baby in tow cheerfully wating for an hour or more to get a charge to drive home.

March 24, 2024 12:31 pm

 EV may well be an option for a wealthy suburban family

Garaged next to an ICE SUV for weekend getaways.

One reason for my 30% of the domestic market tops prediction.

March 24, 2024 1:22 pm

If the elites force this idiocy on the masses, then the elites will be finished.
Along the way of this ill thought out transition, so many things will break that wholesale changes of regimes will occur across the West.

Top Ender
Top Ender
March 24, 2024 2:58 pm

Interesting but the flaw is in the second-last para, which suggests where all the electricity will come from.

How will it be stored? The physics seems somewhat flawed. Bruce?

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
March 24, 2024 3:09 pm

TE – Simple answer, we all work night shift.

That way we can charge our Gaia chariots during the day.

Morlocks R us.

Bungonia Bee
Bungonia Bee
March 25, 2024 7:29 am

Casanova “Blackouts” Bowen is yet to express anything honest about either EVs or where the power is coming from.

March 25, 2024 12:53 pm

BoN, I know that when a lithium-ion cell catches fire the internals have there own fuel and oxydiser. Do you think it possible that there is a way of disrupting even that energetic reaction by flooding a battery pack with it?

March 25, 2024 2:19 pm

All justified by a non-existent problem: global warming: the greatest and most destructive hoax of all time; but only to Western nations: the ME, the chunks and wussia won’t be going all EV.

The first political party which throws this bullshit on the scrap heap will be in power for decades.

March 25, 2024 7:05 pm

Is calling them Zero Emissions Vehicle considered false advertising (mis/disinformation) given the amount of emissions needed to make them (2-3 times the equivalent ICE vehicle by most calculations)?

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
March 25, 2024 7:50 pm

BoN, I know that when a lithium-ion cell catches fire the internals have there own fuel and oxydiser. Do you think it possible that there is a way of disrupting even that energetic reaction by flooding a battery pack with it?

No. The fuel and oxidizer are separated micrometres apart by a very thin layer of plastic. I used to use battery divider membranes for R&D. They have to be thin to minimize the resistance.

Each cell is compartmentalized so you can’t get anything into it to neutralize the energy. Aqueous ferrous sulfate would be pretty good, but there’s no way to get it in contact with the anode and cathode materials.

What you can do, which the firefighters do, is provide lots of something to soak up the released energy. Water. The energy converts the water to steam and cools and dissipates it all. Cooling the uncombusted cells then keeps them from joining their colleagues in exothermic excitement.

A really high energy density battery is basically a solid fuel rocket booster. It’s the same principle.

April 2, 2024 7:05 pm

A fantasy. The larger the vehicle the less economical the EV option. Trump will junk the EV laws and allow California to rot in isolation. That diesel will inevitably remain for large vehicles means it will c ontinue to be available well past 2050. The indistry forecast I have seen predicts that diesel trucks will decline as a percentage but actually in rease in numbers by 2050 due to the increase in vehicle population. In light vehicles ICE will collapse and become a little less than two thirds by 2050. So petrol and diesel will still be availaable. And 2 thirds of voters will not suffer in reased taxes on fuel.

  1. Remember Numbers, with the shaving mirror in his office, watching the delinquents sitting in a corner?

  2. Numbers Bob is over on Michael Smith these days. He was had for breakfast there, back in 2014, but it’s…

Oh, you think that, do you? Care to put it on record?x