Most important electric cars due this year
The electric revolution is coming.
By the end of this year nine of the 10 top-selling brands will have an electric or hybrid vehicle for sale in Australia.
Electric vehicles are grabbing the headlines, but hybrids are dominating sales because they are reasonably priced.
Australians bought more than 60,000 hybrids last year and that number is set to climb as new models arrive.
Here's what the most popular brands have planned for this year.
Toyota dominates hybrid sales in Australia and it's set to build on that with a petrol-electric version of the Kluger mid-year. If it's as successful as the smaller RAV4 Hybrid it could be a game changer for seven-seat SUVs.
Mazda's will put a toe in the water within weeks when it launches the mild hybrid version of the MX-30. The new model doesn't give fuel savings anywhere near those of a full-blown hybrid, though. Its claimed 6.4L/100km average fuel use is more than the standard Mazda3 (6.2L/100km) and only marginally better than the CX-30 (6.5L/100km). By mid-year the all-electric version of the same car arrives with a larger price tag.
Hyundai will soon update its Kona EV and is already delivering 20 fuel-cell vehicles to government and fleet clients. A hybrid version of the Santa Fe large SUV will arrive later in the year, as will the Ioniq 5 mid-sized electric crossover. The Ioniq 5 is based on an all new EV platform that delivers more cabin space. The Ioniq 5 is not to be confused with the regular Ioniq, a hatch available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or EV.
A replacement for Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV will arrive by October. Shortly before that expect a PHEV version of the updated Eclipse Cross, which is slightly smaller than the mid-sized Outlander so should sneak in under its $51,990 starting price.
Hyundai's sister brand Kia will join the EV charge with the Niro, a compact SUV that will be sold as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and EV. Kia has also promised hybrid and PHEV versions of the Sorento large SUV and the brand has its hand in the air for the new EV6, although it's so far unconfirmed.
The delayed plug-in hybrid version of the Escape mid-sized SUV arrives late in the year. Priced from about $56,000, the Escape PHEV is unlikely to be a big seller as it is about $15,000 more than the equivalent petrol-only model.
The revised Leaf EV hatch is due within weeks, with a bigger battery, more grunt and a tweaked name - Leaf e+. In Europe, Nissan has a new hybrid system debuting in the Qashqai. Electric motors do all the driving, while an on-board petrol engine acts as a generator to charge the batteries. Petrol-only Qashqais should arrive early in 2021 and Nissan Australia is reportedly keen on the hybrid, so best guesses are sometime in 2022.
Subaru sells hybrid versions of the XV and Forester, each of which only offers modest electric assistance. The brand has nothing new on the electric horizon for 2021.
Globally, Volkswagen is prioritising EVs through its growing ID sub-brand but none are confirmed for Australia and no hybrids are slated either. Volkswagen blames a lack of government incentives and emissions targets (Australia only has a non-enforceable industry goal), which it says makes it difficult to convince German headquarters to prioritise Australia.
MG currently offers the most affordable EV in the country - the $43,990 ZS EV - and the most affordable plug-in hybrid SUV, the HS PHEV. The brand this week unveiled two new EVs - the Marvel R and the MG5 - but neither are planned for the Australian market in the short term. A spokesman says the local operation is watching the Marvel R "with interest".
Toby Hagon is founder of evcentral.com.au.
Originally published as Most important electric cars due this year