Australians bought more hybrid cars in 2020 than at any other time in our motoring history, but sales of electric vehicles remain miniscule.
A record number of hybrid cars were sold in Australia in 2020 – almost twice as many as the year prior – as electric vehicles continued to represent just 0.2 per cent of the market.
Official 2020 new-car sales figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show 60,417 hybrid vehicles were reported as sold last year, an increase of 93.7 per cent on the 2019 tally of 31,191.
Toyota reported 4825 examples of the RAV4 SUV as sold in August 2020, however of those 4405 were hybrids and the remaining 420 were petrol-only models. The hybrid tally of 4405 was also enough to lead the entire car market for the month.
The surge was due to an influx of orders being filled as Toyota attempted to shorten the waiting list, which had stretched up to 10 months. Despite the increase in production, there is still a three to six-month wait for certain variants of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – the 2020 Drive Car of the Year.
The record hybrid haul means that 26.5 per cent of all Toyotas sold in Australia in 2020 were hybrid.
After starting with the experimental technology 20 years ago with the Prius, Toyota’s petrol-electric system – which recharges itself when braking or coasting and uses an electric motor to move the car from rest, rather than using petrol – has been adapted and expanded across more models.
Toyota Australia sales and marketing chief, Sean Hanley, said the 2020 sales results demonstrated “hybrids are not a fad or a short term trend”.
“Tens of thousands of people now regard hybrids as a practical choice,” said Mr Hanley, who noted customers were prepared to pay the $2000 to $2500 premium for the technology.
“Getting enough (vehicle) supply can be a challenge for us, particularly for RAV4,” he said. “However we are doing our best to minimise (the waiting time) for our customers.”
While Australians have been quick to embrace hybrid technology, the same cannot be said for pure electric cars, which represented just 0.2 of the new-car market in 2020.
The figures exclude Tesla, which does not publish sales data in Australia, however even if those cars were added, the numbers are still miniscule compared to the rest of the market.
Indeed, Toyota hybrid cars accounted for 85 per cent of all types of electrified vehicles sold in Australia in 2020 – including plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars.
Figures compiled by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show 1769 electric vehicles were reported as sold in 2020, an increase of 16.2 per cent compared with the 1523 delivered in 2019.
The tally means electric vehicles accounted for 0.19 per cent of new cars reported as sold in 2020.
VFACTS 2020: Record year for hybrids, electric cars 0.2 per cent of sales