Electric vehicle sales look set to ramp up in 2022, but a recent survey notes that limited choice is still a factor holding drivers back from making the switch.
The gaps in the EV market are obvious: family-friendly electric cars at a relatively affordable price are few and far between.
Coupled with the nascent electric ute market (which is still a way off reaching Australia), it’s clear to see why many Australians may be sitting, and watching, and waiting before hitting the button to make their next car electric.
But there are in fact a number of family-friendly electric vehicles already in Australia, depending on what your criteria are. And there are more coming – you just have to know what you are looking for.
To get you started we’ve taken seven electric cars available today that are eligible for the $3,000 rebates in NSW, Victoria and South Australia – the MG ZS EV (pictured above), and in the panel below, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric fastback, the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia e-Niro, MG ZS EV and Mazda MX-30 compact SUVs, as well as the Nissan Leaf hatchback and the Tesla Model 3 electric sedan.
We’ve looked at factors like child safety features, reversing cameras, whether there are anchors for three child seats, how much legroom and boot space there is, vehicle clearance (and this seat access height), airbags, and whether a seven-seat option is available.
Airbags, child safety locks, child seat tethers and reversing cameras are available on all these models, and all have five star ratings and good child occupant scores (with the exception of the Kona which doesn’t appear to have been tested for this by car safety body ANCAP).
It really comes down to preference on what style of vehicle you want, whether you need to fit three child seats across the back and what boot space, vehicle height and rear legroom you are prepared to settle for.
According to the data we’ve collected below, the Model 3 (which starts at $59,900 before on-roads) is the widest vehicle of the lot, with the $48,490 Ioniq fastback coming in second.
The MG ZS EV – the cheapest of the six at $44,900 driveway – scores best on clearance, legroom and boot space. The $62,590 e-Niro and $64,990 Nissan Leaf e+ also score well on boot space.
Both the Model 3 and the $65,490 MX-30 score highest for child occupant safety at 87%, and interestingly the MX-30 is the only one with an Isofix child seat tether on all three rear seats even though it is one of the narrowest offerings. All other vehicles have an Isofix on outboard rear seats and a standard tether on all three seats.
All have front passenger airbag disabling except the Ioniq, ZS EV and Model 3.
|Model||Width (mm)||Clearance (mm)||Rear Legroom (mm)||Boot volume (litres)||ANCAP 5 star rating||Child occupant protection||Front occupant airbag disabling||Airbags – twin front||Airbags – twin side chest||Airbags – twin curtain side||Reversing camera/monitor||Child seat anchors – belted||Child seat anchors – isofix|
|Hyundai Ioniq Electric||1820||140||800||357||Y||87%||N||Y||Y||Y||Y||3||2||Y|
|Hyundai Kona Electric||1800||158||848||332||Y||–||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||3||2||Y|
|MG ZS EV||1809||161||920||470||Y||84%||N||Y||Y||Y||Y||3||2||Y|
|Nissan Leaf e+||1791||150||851||435||Y||83%||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||3||2||Y|
|Tesla Model 3||1849||140||894||340||Y||87%||N||Y||Y||Y||Y||3||2||Y|
Remember to check ANCAP ratings particularly for which types of child seats can be fitted safely on rear seats, and whether from passenger airbags can be deactivated, and always check with your vehicle retailer on whether the variant you buy has all the features mentioned above.
For those of you intent on getting something at the higher end of the price spectrum we recommend checking out ANCAP. By downloading the spec sheet you’ll get more information on airbags, and child safety features.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.