We understand that navigating the complexities of EV purchase can be a challenge for Fleet Managers. Most states and territories in Australia have their own EV rebates to support EV adoption and corresponding eligibility criteria. We've compiled the information for your convenience.

For more in-depth information on EV adoption in Australia, check out the Electric Vehicle Council’s 2023 report on the current state of EVs across Australia.

Table of contents

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT has a number of EV rebates on offer for new ZEV purchases. These include:

New South Wales

The NSW Government will offer an $3,000 EV rebate for the first 25,000 new full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), purchased for a dutiable value of less than $68,750 that are registered on or after 1 September 2021.

Northern Territory

The NT Government is offering registration and stamp duty concessions for eligible plug-in electric vehicles.

You can get:

Motor Accidents Compensation (MAC) charges including GST and administration fee still apply.


The Queensland Zero Emission Vehicle Rebate Scheme provides eligible Queenslanders rebates of up to $6,000 for eligible new Zero Emission Vehicles purchased from 21 April 2023.


The South Australian Government is providing a $3,000 EV rebate and a 3-year registration exemption on eligible new battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles first registered from 28 October 2021.


As of June 30, 2023, Tasmania’s EV rebates have ended. If you purchased an EV before May 25, 2023, you can still claim the EV and FCEV stamp duty exemption. However, this will end on January 1, 2024.

The Tasmanian Government has announced that they have plans to further incentivise EV purchases, but no information has been released.


Unfortunately, the Victorian government announced in May 2023 that they were ending the $3,000 electric-car subsidy. Currently there are no plans to offer any new incentives.

Western Australia

The Western Australian Government offers a $3,500 rebate on eligible ZEVs. The rebate is available for 10,000 eligible vehicles licensed in WA, or for three years following the announcement (Saturday 10 May 2025), whichever comes first.

Federal FBT Exemptions

In 2022, a Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) exemption was introduced that removes FBT for EVs under the LCT threshold for fuel-efficient vehicles ($89,332 for the 2023-24 year). The removal of FBT effectively brings down the cost of an EV to parity with a comparable petrol or diesel car.

A list of over 30 cars that are eligible for FBT exemption has been provided, which means there is an electric car to suit most tastes:

  • BYD Atto 3
  • BYD Dolphin
  • Cupra Born
  • Cupra Leon (PHEV)
  • Cupra Formentor (PHEV)
  • Fiat 500e
  • Ford Escape (PHEV)
  • Ford Mustang Mach-e
  • GMW Ora
  • Hyundai Ioniq 5
  • Hyundai Ioniq 6
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Kia Niro
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia Sorento (PHEV)
  • Lexus ux300e
  • Mazda MX-30
  • Mercedes-Benz EQA
  • Mercedes-Benz EQB
  • Mazda CX-60 (PHEV)
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (PHEV)
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (PHEV)
  • MG 4
  • MG HS Plus (PHEV)
  • MG ZS EV
  • Mini Cooper SE
  • Mini Countryman (PHEV)
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Peugeot 508 (PHEV)
  • Peugeot 308 (PHEV)
  • Peugeot 3008 (PHEV)
  • Polestar 2
  • Tesla Model 3
  • Tesla Model Y
  • Volvo C40
  • Volvo XC40

Your Partner in EV fleet management

We understand how important it is for organisations to plan and transition to more sustainable fleets. We're keen to be your partner on the journey to sustainable transportation, and EVs will play an important role in that transition. Get in touch with us today to learn how you can get started on the journey.

We are all familiar with the role vehicle transport plays in releasing Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. In NZ, nearly 70% of all transport CO2 emissions are from cars, SUVs, utes, vans and light trucks. In Australia, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles alone contributed 60% of transport emissions and over 10% of the country’s total emissions.

These emissions, together with those being released by industry, agriculture, and energy production, have been identified as the primary cause of the severe weather conditions being experienced worldwide. Australia and New Zealand have also witnessed the effects this and are pursuing a range of measures to reduce emissions.

To achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, NZ has brought in the Clean Car Discount which rewards EVs buyers and The Clean Car Standard to regulate vehicle importers and reduce CO2 emissions to specific targets. It is anticipated that these measures will work together to improve the supply and the demand for low and zero CO2 emission light vehicles entering New Zealand

To help deliver on its goal of net zero emissions by 2050, Australia is also looking at a raft of initiatives to support EV uptake, including: Electric Car Discount legislation, which is already making EVs cheaper and Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Charging Network, to roll out chargers on average every 150 kilometres on major highways.

Our governments are reacting to the clear and present danger posed by global warming by targeting human activities, which 97% of publishing climate scientists agree is the cause.

It has taken a climate crisis to generate concerted action on the harm caused by internal combustion engine vehicles, but the problems caused by these vehicles reaches far beyond the weather.

According to the research in NZ, transport is responsible for two thirds of the harm estimated to be caused by human-made air pollution. Each year in New Zealand harmful emissions result in:

The story is much the same in Australia. Where research conducted by Melbourne Climate Futures, shows that annually vehicle emissions in Australia may cause:

For context, road accidents across Australia in 2021 resulted in 1,123 premature deaths – that is 10 times less than the number of deaths resulting from air pollution.

This is because, in addition to greenhouse gases, petrol and diesel vehicles also release nitrogen oxides and particulate pollution that are harmful to our health. Exposure to nitrogen oxides causes respiratory and cardiovascular damage and can contribute to smog. Particulates can cause lung cancer, and both forms of pollution contribute to asthma. 

We could be forgiven for thinking that removing lead from petrol (1996 in NZ and 2002 in Australia) eliminated the major health-harm effects of vehicle pollution, but the problems have continued. Looking at the statistics for pollution harm in NZ and Australia provides further support for switching to EVs, beyond improving the health of the planet.

While the purchase price is one thing to consider when investing in fleet vehicles, it’s also important to look at the total cost of owning an EV, compared to a petrol (or diesel) vehicle. Total cost of ownership is a calculation that adds up all the costs related to buying and operating the vehicle, and then subtracts the residual value of the vehicle (the price it can be sold for).

Research indicates that the total cost of owning an EV is significantly less than owning a petrol car. This is because BEV engines are much simpler than internal combustion engines, with fewer moving parts, which means maintenance is far less expensive. There is no need to tune the engine, change the oil, replace the spark plugs, or service the transmission.

One study found electric vehicle servicing costs are one-third lower than ICE servicing costs. Based on this assumption, you might spend $1,000 maintaining a petrol engine each year or $666 to maintain a BEV. (Hybrid vehicles still have an ICE engine, so servicing costs won’t be much lower, if at all.)

In another study, the average total cost of ownership for the four tested EVs was 67.5% of the total cost of owning the petrol alternatives, at $36,772 for the EVs compared to $54,473 for the petrol cars. The real-world evidence is stacking up in favour of EVs and we haven’t even mentioned burning expensive fossil fuels.

Using electricity to power your car, instead of petrol is a major saving.

To put it another way, running an EV is the equivalent of paying just 40 cents per litre for petrol.

Choosing to go electric could mean you rack up just 67% of the costs associated with the petrol alternatives!

Of course, the total cost of ownership needs to include any future resale price to be truly representative, and EV ownership is looking good there, too. The EVs looked at in this study had a higher residual value after five years of ownership, whereas the petrol vehicles generally lost value faster. After five years, the four tested EVs could be expected to sell for, on average, 50% of their original purchase price. The petrol cars, on the other hand, had expectations, on average, that were 43% of their original purchase price.

Organisations are starting to feel the pressure to reduce emissions. However, there’s a lot of confusion about the best approach to successfully transition to electric vehicles. For many Fleet Managers, day-to-day operations take precedence over the broader goals of reducing emissions. If this sounds like the challenge facing you, we have a proven strategy to get your people into EVs. With government mandates already in place, now is the time to start planning for a smooth and successful transition to a more sustainable fleet.

A successful transition to EVs depends on a comprehensive approach.

  1. The Fleet Review
  2. The EV adoption roadmap
  3. Your EV policies
  4. Utilising EV-friendly tech
  5. Measure the gains

Deciding what’s possible

Smartrak’s proven strategy to help organisations transition to electric vehicles highlights the opportunity for fleets to reduce their carbon footprint.

Our Transition Strategy offers a complete plan for EV transition, including feasibility analysis, identifying opportunities for fleet optimisation, and EV rollout.  

It all starts with understanding your operational requirements and developing a tailored EV Transition Strategy that maximises fleet productivity alongside reducing emissions.

Step 1: The Fleet Review

An honest review of fleet operations doesn’t start with assumptions, it starts with analysing the data of actual vehicle use. Smartrak client, Meridian Energy, assumed that transitioning 30% of their white fleet to EVs was doable. However, the data collected through telematics illustrated that a 100% transition was achievable, and that’s where they are now.

The review will provide the confidence to map out a roadmap towards a more sustainable fleet that is also aligned with your organisation’s goals. It also provides a baseline by which all future reporting and analysis will be measured.

Step 2: The EV adoption roadmap

Once you understand your fleet, you’re in a position to create a tailored roadmap that will guide your transition to electric vehicles. This should include your charging strategy: will you rely on public chargers or bring in your own charging infrastructure? This is also the right time to factor in any vehicle leasing milestones for EV swap-outs and the government incentives and rebates that are available.

Step 3: Your EV policies

An EV that isn’t fully utilised won’t noticeably reduce your fleet costs or your emissions. Underutilisation can come down to a range of factors: range anxiety, preference, or unsuitability can all affect how much an EV is used. By adopting policies that prioritise the use of EVs and ensure that charging isn’t an issue you will get over most of the hurdles to maximised utilisation. And if your Fleet Review has done its job, you will have identified those special case vehicles that are currently unsuitable for EV transition.

Step 4: Utilising EV-friendly tech

Smartrak has prioritised EV adoption in our product development roadmap. This has produced some new features and solutions to make EVs easier to adopt and manage.

Our latest tracking device offers state-of-the-art telematics alongside an EV focus that provides real-time visibility of critical battery data, including battery charge state and range on that available charge.

This tracking solution will also underpin your EV charging strategy by letting you know when an EV is on a charger. Combine this knowledge with an awareness of battery levels across the fleet and you can prioritise access to chargers.

If you run a shared fleet, our pool booking solution includes EV-focused features that highlight the previously discussed battery data and automatically calculate if there is sufficient charge for a booker’s proposed journey. The booking solution can also prioritise EVs in booking requests to ensure they are always used first, where appropriate.

Step 5: Measure the gains

To generate momentum in the adoption of EVs you will need to demonstrate that it’s worth the investment. This is where reporting is vital. The huge amount of information that’s being collected through telematics and your pool booking solution, if you have one, needs to be analysed and shared with others. Smartrak can integrate telematics and pool booking into a seamless and powerful information generator and then deliver that knowledge in easily shared and impactful reports. You can see savings in fuel use and project reductions in vehicle servicing costs. We also have an automated fleet emissions reporting module that will measure progress to a more sustainable fleet.

Proving that your EV adoption strategy is making a difference provides the confidence to expand the role of EVs in your business and highlights where savings can be reinvested in your more sustainable fleet.

To find out more or to start your fleet's transition to electric vehicles, talk to us today.

2023 has been a busy year for Smartrak. We’ve launched powerful new solutions to help Fleet Managers with the day-to-day management of EVs. We’ve also launched enhancements to our existing solutions with additional tools to help Smartrak customers achieve more sustainable fleets.

Nextrak for visibility of key EV battery data

In Q2 we launched Nextrak, our next-generation telematics solution.

Nextrak streamlines EV management by offering real-time battery data directly in Smartrak. This allows Fleet Managers to view real-time information on an EV’s current battery charge, the available range, and whether it’s currently plugged in and charging. This visibility unlocks effective EV fleet management and helps support your EV charging strategy.

EV battery tab

Thanks to the launch of Nextrak, Smartrak users can now view real-time EV data directly in the Smartrak map. Users simply select the vehicle of interest and click on the EV Battery tab in the pop-up box.

The EV Battery tab provides comprehensive real-time information on the vehicle’s battery charge, current battery range, and whether the EV is plugged into a charger. This live data helps you proactively manage your EVs when they’re on the road.

This new capability is available for any EV equipped with Nextrak. Live EV data will give you the power to make informed decisions for your EV fleet, support your charging strategy, and reduce the administration burden associated with managing EVs.

Real-time EV data in PoolCar

We also launched an update to PoolCar that integrates Nextrak EV data across the whole booking platform, providing a streamlined way for administrators to manage EVs, and reassuring end-users that EVs are a suitable choice.

Fleet administrators gained a new report that provides valuable data on EV information. View range, current charge, and whether they are plugged in and charging. Fleet Managers can proactively charge vehicles that need charging before it becomes an issue.

End users gain the confidence that any EV that they book has the required charge and range at the time of booking. For bookings in the future, users can be notified if EVs are below a range threshold before their booking starts. This gives them the ability to either plug the EV in to charge or update the booking to a more suitable vehicle.

Real-time EV API

We realise that our customers sometimes need to export Smartrak data into other business systems and software. The launch of Nextrak has also allowed us to develop a new EV API. This addition to our API suite gives customers the ability to pull live EV data (battery percentage, range, and charging status) wherever it’s needed.

Informative, easy-to-understand Insights

Smartrak also launched a new Insights reporting suite. Now Fleet Managers can dive into visual reports that put their fleet data front and centre, taking the hard work out of fleet reporting and analysis.

By visualising fleet information as informative graphs and tables, Insights bring clarity to fleet data. It’s never been easier to identify trends and opportunities that can make significant impacts on fleet operations. Insights is available to all Smartrak telematics customers and will see further updates in the near future.

Out of Geofence Insights - Improved visibility of fleet utilisation needn’t be a time-sink

Everything you need to make informed decisions is automatically produced graphs and tables. A simple click provides a graphical analysis of weekly, monthly, and annual utilisation trends. Include geofence information to assess off-site activity and fine-tune the reporting periods to reflect your operational day – it’s all easy.

Emissions Insights - Accurate emissions reporting with all the analysis baked in

Measuring and reporting on fleet emissions is now no longer optional for many fleets. The Emissions Insights tab automates emissions reporting, saving Fleets time.

Emissions Insights draws on the data collected via our already available Emissions Reporting solution but presents that information in a format that customers will find easier to digest. Our NZ customers will be able to view their emissions with reliable accuracy thanks to our integrations with the NZTA to align each vehicle’s unique emissions profile.

The reports are generated automatically – so there’s no need to be an ‘emissions expert’ – and can be configured to provide an accurate report on a single vehicle’s emissions or the whole fleet.

Most fleet managers understand that electric vehicles (EVs) are here to stay and will play an increasingly important role in how organisations move people from A to B. They are a proven way to reduce fleet emissions, and when utilised properly, an excellent opportunity to reduce fleet running costs. But to ensure you reap the benefits EVs are capable of, it’s important that you have a way to accurately measure EV utilisation. In short, electric vehicle tracking should be a serious consideration alongside your EV deployment.

Why electric vehicle tracking is essential

Vehicle tracking has become an integral part of any fleet management operation. Not only does it give you the peace of mind of knowing where your assets are, but it also opens the door to a wealth of utilisation data that can inform your decision-making. Electric vehicle tracking has then become an extension of this concept, but it offers several additional benefits, including identifying EV suitability, maximising EV utilisation, reducing the administration of EVs, and supporting your chosen charging strategy.

Identifying EV suitability

The first question facing a fleet when looking at adopting EVs is how many to bring on board. Often, managers are guided by anecdotal evidence about which roles are suitable for an EV replacement. These decisions are generally framed around range and vehicle suitability (4WD, etc.). If you have telematics deployed for your conventional vehicles, you will be able to use the tracking data to gain real-world insights into actual use profiles and make your decisions accordingly.

This is a good start, but if your tracking solution isn’t also compatible with the EVs you’re adopting, your new vehicles will essentially ‘drop off the radar.’

By having electric vehicle tracking in place, you can refine your EV adoption parameters; taking into consideration how the first tranche of EVs is being utilised and using that information to plan further deployments.

Maximising EV utilisation with electric vehicle tracking

Range anxiety is one of the most common reasons given for choosing a conventional vehicle over an EV. This reluctance to take a chance on an EV is completely understandable if vehicle users are unfamiliar with the technology. If the petrol vehicle is down to a quarter tank, no problem: a five-minute pit stop at any petrol station will sort you out. On the other hand, running out of charge in an EV is viewed as a major inconvenience.

Electric vehicle tracking addresses this issue by allowing managers and end-users the ability to monitor the real-time battery levels of all your EVs. It provides information on the battery level and the current range. This information can be supplied to a user’s computer or via an app on their phone so they know their chosen vehicle has sufficient charge for a trip even before they head to the car park.

This level of battery information is also a game changer for fleet managers, as it provides a centralised view of all EVs in the fleet and their status. If any EVs are running low on juice, they can be prioritised so future users aren’t inconvenienced. In this way, electric vehicle tracking brings agility to fleet EV management to maximise their use and remove unwanted roadblocks.

Reduced admin and a unified management experience  

Most modern EVs will come with a level of telematics already installed and referred to as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) telematics. Unfortunately, OEM telematics are generally specific to a model or brand of EV and will not offer a unified management process across different brands. Some software suppliers are building apps to address this, but you will need to check before choosing your EVs. Even with a third-party app to bring all OEM telematics under a single management process, you will still be faced with a doubling of management workload because your conventional vehicles are being tracked by different, and often more capable technology.

The best option is to bring in an electric vehicle tracking solution that is also capable of tracking your remaining conventional vehicles. This will provide a unified system that delivers the tracking capabilities you are familiar with to your entire fleet. Plus, this continuity is available without compromising on the specific insights you want to successfully manage EVs. Just clicking on the EV Tab in the fleet management or vehicle booking program will bring up the battery information that’s important to EV management alongside all the tracking data you’re used to seeing with a conventional tracking solution.

As your appetite for more EVs grows this dual capability will support a seamless transition, opening a pathway for greater EV adoption without the necessity for additional systems or an extra layer of admin.

Electric vehicle tracking supports your EV charging strategy

The real-time battery information an electric vehicle tracking solution provides will also highlight if an EV is currently on a charger. Combine this knowledge with awareness of that EV’s current battery level and you have the tools to maximise your investment in charging infrastructure. Seeing that a vehicle occupying a charger has a nearly full battery while another EV has an almost empty battery highlights that these vehicles need to be swapped over.

It can also inform how many chargers you may choose to deploy at your head office and remote sites. The conventional wisdom of a 1-to-1 charger ratio with all EVs plugged in at the end of the day will likely prove to be an unnecessary cost if you can proactively manage vehicle charging throughout the day. Research shows that most fleets find a 1-to-4 ratio adequate for operational requirements.

Supporting operational goals

Electric vehicle tracking also helps manage risky driver behaviours, such as speeding. With a unified tracking system, you’re able to confidently address any infringements and measure the performance of all drivers equally.

Another operational goal that will be front-of-mind is measuring the outcomes of your EV investment. While it’s all well and good to know that you can achieve fuel savings of up to 70% and a reduction in maintenance costs of up to 40%, you need a way to track your fleet’s progress. By integrating electric vehicle tracking with a comprehensive reporting suite, you’ll be able to measure progress across key criteria from emissions reduction to operational savings. Being able to identify the highest-emitting vehicles and assess their suitability for EV replacement is an excellent way to tip the balance towards a more sustainable (and cheaper to run) fleet.

Future-proofing your EV investment

Electric vehicle tracking also plays a necessary component in the variety of EV management solutions being brought to market. Already, vehicle booking solutions can use electric vehicle tracking to alert a booker if their chosen vehicle is below an average trip threshold, which may impact their upcoming trip. This capability opens the door to journey management, with charging stations included in a navigation map together with suggested recharging stops based on that EV’s current battery level and range.

Enrolling EVs in your fleet’s servicing schedules will be simplified and streamlined by using electric vehicle tracking to track the necessary mileage, etc. and then include these service milestones in your operational calendar.

Smartrak and electric vehicle tracking

We’ve been busy building the tools that will help organisations transition to more sustainable fleets. Nextrak, our next-generation electric vehicle tracking solution streamlines and eliminates the hassle of managing a fleet of EVs. If you’re ready to switch to an EV fleet, get in touch with us today to discover how electric vehicle tracking can help you.

I’m sure that many people with fleet management responsibilities will already be looking at a year that’s full of tasks. There’s EV adoption and the transition to more sustainable operations, the ever-present demand to achieve more with available resources, and a host of management responsibilities to do with employees, ranging from driver behaviour to managing them more efficiently.  

With a potential roster of new initiatives and old challenges that’s already looking daunting adding another topic to your list may be unwelcome. But this is something that absolutely has to be on your radar. 

In August 2024, Vodafone will cease 3G operations in New Zealand.

In Australia it's happening in June 2024.

This means that any telematics devices on the 3G network will no longer be supported. August next year seams a long way off but consider the ducks that need to be in a row to ensure a seamless transition. Firstly, you need to make sure your telematics supplier has a strategy for the 4G transition, including sourcing, testing and approving suitable replacements. Talk to them now to find out what their strategy is. 

You are also going to have to factor in that lots of fleets will be looking to get replacement devices at the same time. This could potentially create a logistical and product supply logjam, particularly if too many fleets leave their transition to the last minute. 

Vodafone’s announcement that its 3G operations will cease in New Zealand from late August 2024 has brought to light an extensive programme of preparation that Smartrak has been engaged in. For the last 18 months, our Product Development and Customer Success teams have been pursuing a 4G transition strategy that will enable our customers to experience a successful transition. 

Our efforts have focussed on three areas that will be critical to maintaining business and operational continuity for our customers, during the transition and beyond. 

  1. Identifying, testing, and approving suitable 4G replacements for current 3G technologies. 
  1. Enabling a seamless transition between 3 and 4G solutions. 
  1. Developing a roadmap that ensures our customers can take full advantage of the new capabilities available with the 4G upgrade. 

We will also be engaging with our customers throughout 2023 to help them prepare for the transition. Through a combination of general information releases and targeted engagement via the Customer Success Managers, Smartrak will ensure that all customers are fully informed and equipped to develop successful transition plans. 

The transition to 4G is an exciting development and we want our customers to be in a position where they will see the benefits 4G brings to fleet management and safety. 

Benefits of upgrading to 4G

4G offers a substantial improvement in data speed. 4G stands for fourth generation, and it’s a step-change in cellular capabilities that will make everything faster and smoother. In fact, 4G is 500 times faster than 3G, making support for high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing and other data-heavy solutions easier and quicker. For our customers, this also means better connectivity when a device is communicating from a moving vehicle, for instance.  

4G opens up an exciting future of possibilities, with expanded capabilities for telematics solutions. Video capture of the events leading up to a vehicle accident, or video monitoring of drivers to identify fatigued driving or smoking in the vehicle are all opportunities that can be more easily realised with 4G. 

4G offers network confidence with excellent connectivity in urban zones. And for those rare instances where 4G does not match 3G in some areas there’s the new Nextrak device, which automatically falls back to 2G when 4G coverage drops out. Taken as a combined offering, 4G/2G coverage is actually better than current 3G, and if there are issues in remote areas Smartrak will recommend deploying satellite or dual cellular/satellite solutions. 

We're ready to help you switch to 4G

The fantastic news is that we've been preparing for the 3G shutdown for more than a year. We've done the research and testing required to find suitable 4G replacements for our existing solutions. We've put hardware through an exhaustive test, including multi-hour round trips in some of NZ's notorious coverage black spots.

Our entire solution suite is now 4G compatible. If you're an existing customer that still has old 3G hardware, get in touch with us today to start the process of upgrading to 4G. And if you've recently purchased hardware from us, you're already 4G future proofed.

Developing your fleet’s 4G Transition Plan 

Through 2023, Smartrak will be releasing information and support to help our customers develop their 4G transition plans. We understand that every fleet is different with regards to the devices deployed (tracking devices, personal safety devices, etc.) and that the 4G Transition Plan for your fleet needs to be a bespoke document. The information we are producing will take this into account. Smartrak’s Help Desk will also be fully engaged in helping customers through the transition, as will our Customer Success Managers. 

A FAQ sheet has been prepared to cover any immediate questions you may have. Download it here. Alternatively, if you're a Smartrak customer, you can talk to one of our Customer Success Managers directly for more information. 

EV and hybrid sales are increasing on both sides of the Tasman. In NZ, 32% of all car sales so far in 2023 have been either electric or hybrid. In Australia, EV registrations hit a record of 8,124 during May and are outselling petrol-driven cars in the ‘Medium’ category.

While these stats are not specific to commercial fleets, there’s good news for fleet managers in these figures for three reasons.

  1. More vehicles arriving here. A strong market for EVs in Australia and New Zealand provides confidence to vehicle manufacturers as they parcel out the limited supply of vehicles, reducing wait times and increasing the range available.
  2. More convenient charging. More EVs on the road generates the impetus for expanding charging infrastructure, which is good news for any organisation that doesn’t have the budget for their own chargers.
  3. More government action. Healthy sales of EVs is a sign the legislative environment is pivoting to supporting electric.

These are all important indicators for fleet purchasing decision makers and as 2023 has seen significant sales growth for EVs we felt a wrap-up at the year’s midpoint would be worthwhile.

A range of factors are responsible for this growth. The journey distance available with modern EVs will be a factor for many; one of the top selling EVs on both sides of the ditch, the Tesla Model 3, has an estimated range of 602 km. There’s also more choice available in the EV segment with 60 models to choose from in Australia, although that’s still pretty meagre when compared to the around 230 models available in the EU.

This all looks quite rosy for the private purchaser segment but applying a commercial-fleet filter tells a different story. A range comparison with models more likely to be included in fleets, Hyundai IONIQ (300 kms) and Hyundai Kona (260kms with a battery upgrade), highlights how expanding range is pretty much limited to top of the range. There also isn’t a lot to celebrate on model choice either, as most fleets have restricted EV adoption to run-abouts and continue to shun the limited ute and 4-wheel drive offerings.

The automobile industry has read the tea leaves but it’s governments that are forecasting the future

The advances in EV technology and choice are signalling that the automobile industry has come to the party, but the generator for that change has undoubtedly been government action. Legislatures in the EU and US have been aggressively pushing an EV agenda for some time and manufacturers have responded to that. In this part of the world, governments have been a bit slower, but government orchestrated change is definitely making itself felt now. NZ’s Clean Car Discount is now an established part of the vehicle purchasing landscape and Australia is making positive progress to adopting a Fuel Efficiency Standard. This legislation looks like having cross party support and will be presented to Parliament before the end of the year with the intention of coming into law during early 2024.

Does Australia have the political will to rein in the utes?

Australia is one of the few developed nations not to have fuel efficiency standards, so bringing them in is reason to celebrate although there are some caveats. Government messaging talks about “continued sales of the vehicles Australians love, including utes and 4-wheel drives”, so it looks like the big emitters will be getting some sort of pass when the legislation does come in. There’s obviously an element of realpolitik here; utes occupied the top three slots in vehicle sales during March this year and there wasn’t a single passenger sedan in the top ten.

To give that ranking some context, consider that on average Aussie passenger cars emit a massive 40% more carbon than the EU, and 15% more than New Zealand. This is because there are currently no requirements placed on vehicle importers to deliver cleaner operating vehicles to Australia. The Fuel Efficiency Standard addresses this and is probably helping to generate positive noise around EV ownership, but does it go far enough? The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive, Tony Weber, thinks not, declaring that tighter “but achievable” fuel efficiency standards were needed to accelerate the shift to EVs. He also shared his thoughts about the cost of EVs, saying: “This growth [in EVs] demonstrates that where Australians can afford a battery electric vehicle which suits their lifestyle, they will buy them.” We are sure there are fleet managers who will agree with him. Evidence does seem to illustrate that many fleet managers see the cost of EVs as prohibitive, even if the savings in running costs and moving away from fossil fuels do bring down the TCO.

When is a ute not a ute?

To be realistic, the Aussie love affair with utes and 4-wheel drives isn’t going to change anytime soon, so it’s up to vehicle manufacturers to lift their game in these categories. Although a limited range of electric utes is now available, most consumers are waiting for vehicles with the performance and cachet to get over the fact that they’re electric. The Ford 150 Lightning fits the bill with range options beyond 500 km and 0-60 in just four seconds, but it’s only a ‘maybe’ available next year. If you’re waiting for the Rivian R1T or Ram 1500 REV, the timescales are similar.

Until then, in ANZ, options include the LDV eT60 double-cab with just over 300km of range, although at full towing weight of 1,500kg that range drops to half. Robert Pepper does a great breakdown of towing dynamics and why EVs are a good match from a mass perspective, even if the range impact EVs face from drag are felt more acutely.

But on this point, Fleet Managers really have to ask themselves if range compromises when towing are actually a problem. Putting aside legitimate concerns about ‘outback journeys’, many ute trips are in reality taken by tradies around town. Smartrak is often asking organisations to be guided by the data rather than supposition and where this advice is followed fleets invariably discover that an EV is more than equal to the task. That said, the EV adoption success stories we have played a role in are invariably around passenger cars, with fleet managers echoing the sentiment of private buyers in considering the current crop of electric utes and 4-wheel drives unable to fit the bill.

The decline of hybrids?

Another shift that has come through in this year’s Australian figures that could be reflected in fleet purchasing decisions concerns hybrids. Sales of battery electric vehicles have overtaken hybrid cars for the second month in a row, with EVs now leading hybrids on a year-to-date basis for the first time. This is probably a reflection of improvements in EV tech and the growth of charging infrastructure, both of which make the decision to buy a hybrid ‘just in case’ less compelling. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, for us as well as our customers. Smartrak recently released a fleet solution that helps drivers book an EV with confidence by detailing battery level and anticipated range on that charge; we included hybrids in that solution because they are represented in the fleets we help manage and we thought are likely to remain so – just in case.

Confirmation that legislation is key

To wrap-up, let’s return to the topic of legislation. Leading fleet management company, FleetPartners, states that 17% of new business during the first half of 2023 involved orders for EVs. However, if we focus just on the stats for New Zealand, which has a more mature legislative environment for EV adoption, we see that half the order pipeline is for EVs. This is more than evidence of building momentum; it could be argued that the tipping point for more sustainable fleets has already been reached in some markets and legislation was generator of that change.