In the world of 'electric' cars, there are three main types.
- Battery-electric vehicles (BEV) - see the list for 2022
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV)
- Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCEV)
This list will focus on the plug-in-hybrid electric cars available in Australia as of May 2022.
What is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)?
The electric motor can drive the car independently in most situations for emissions-free driving, though it often works with the engine to save fuel, improve performance, and enable longer range.
PHEV batteries can be charged from a standard power socket, EV charger (often AC only) or regenerative braking. Once the battery is depleted the car will automatically switch to the ICE engine.
When does a PHEV make sense?
Day-to-day short commutes
The average electric-only range of today's PHEVs is 57 km. This is enough to comfortably cover the average daily distance driven in Australia – 37 km. In fact, all but one PHEV model on the list are able to cover this distance.
The battery and electric motors in a PHEV provide the benefits of electric cars (cheap energy, quiet driving and strong performance) for most regular daily commutes.
The ICE engine provides additional range and alleviates range anxiety. It also gives owners the option of taking longer trips without the inconvenience of extended charging times.
Less efficient than its ICE and BEV equivalents
Because a PHEV contains both engine and electric, it is more heavier and inefficient than its equivalents when operating in pure electric or engine-only mode respectively.
As per the example below, the efficiency of the Kia Niro PHEV is lower than the BEV version; however, it is still able to deliver the aforementioned benefits.
Convenient access to charging
Buyers of PHEV are typically looking to cover their day-to-day commute using the electric range. The smaller battery of a PHEV means you are likely to deplete the capacity regularly.
To ensure regular use of the all-electric range, you will ideally need convenient access to a charging outlet (home or workplace) as you'll need to be recharging regularly.
Which PHEV models are available in Australia?
As of May 2022 there are 26 different PHEV models available in Australia from 13 different manufacturers.
BEVs outsold PHEVs by a factor of five to one in 2021. Based on data and consumer trends, zecar has observed to date this is unlikely to change significantly going forward. Australian buyers, along with most parts of the world, have indicated a strong preference for pure electric vehicles.
What government incentives are available for PHEVs?
As of May 2022, the Australian Government does not provide any direct incentives for PHEV's, outside of a slightly lower luxury car tax (LCT) for "fuel efficient vehicles".
However, the Northern Territory government is the only state/territory government to provide financial incentives for PHEV purchases. You can read more about them in our ultimate EV incentives guide.
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