More Aussies to drive EVs but cost remains a speed bump

Thousands more electric vehicles are expected to hit Australian roads in the next five years with 40 per cent of motorists saying they plan to shift to the technology,  a study shows.

But the University of Sydney research also found a large number of drivers can't afford to upgrade to an EV, while a minority just aren't interested in making the switch. 

The findings came after a separate study identified hybrid vehicles as a rising option for consumers, following record-breaking sales for low-emission cars in the first three months of this year. 

The University of Sydney's Transport Opinion Survey quizzed 1030 adults about future vehicle purchase intentions and found two in five intend to drive an electric vehicle in the next five years.

Of that figure, four per cent already owned an EV, nine per cent are considering a purchase in the next 12 months, and 27 per cent are weighing up whether to buy in the next five years.

But price remains a sticking point with 44 per cent saying they can't afford a battery-powered vehicle, and 15 per cent saying they aren't interested.

University of Sydney Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies director David Hensher said the findings proved there are barriers to reducing transport emissions in Australia. 

"This survey shows there remains a challenge to improving the affordability of EVs and convincing more than half of Australians they are an alternative to your standard internal combustion engines," he said. 

Prof Hensher said there are also questions about whether EV adoption would slow down once the 40 per cent of drivers intending to buy a vehicle have done so.

Meanwhile, Roy Morgan research released this week found EV buying intentions are still rising, with 607,000 EVs expected to be on roads in the next four years - 37,000 more than last year's forecast.

The popularity of hybrid vehicles is also rising with the survey of more than 1000 people estimating another 1.27 million low-emission vehicles will be sold over the next four years, up 154,000. 

"The types of vehicles that Australians intend to buy are changing rapidly," Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said.

The survey also found diesel vehicles are falling out of favour with sales estimates down by 130,000 to 498,000 vehicles, making them less popular than EVs for the first time.

Figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries also confirm the sales trend for EVs, with more than 25,000 sold between January and March this year compared to more than 17,000 last year.

Hybrid vehicles are also more popular, with sales of more than 35,000 models in the first three months, compared to more than 16,000 previously.

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