You’d have to have been living under a rock not to notice the proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs) hitting the Australian market – and our roads. But as the category grows, it’s becoming much harder for buyers to know just which one is the best electric car out there.
New technology, specialist brands and price tags that almost seem to be getting lower by the week mean EVs accounted for 8.4% of all new cars sold in Australia in the first half of 2023.1 That represents a 120% increase in the number of electric cars purchased compared to all of 2022.1
Consumers are strongly leaning towards battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), over plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), with BEVs now representing over 90% of Australia’s EV market.1
“There are a few reasons for the rise in popularity of electric cars,” says Richard Blackburn, National Motoring Editor, News Corp Australia.
“The first is the introduction of government incentives that can make an EV cheaper than an equivalent petrol car for some buyers, and the second is that those supply problems that were an issue for so long are now starting to subside, so the cars are becoming far more accessible and more affordable.”2
According to the NSW government, the running costs are particularly significant, with EVs capable of passing along fuel savings of up to 70% and maintenance savings of around 40%.3
Increased support for owners of electric vehicles
Launched in April 2023, the Australian Government’s National Electric Vehicle Strategy seeks to increase the uptake of EVs by boosting the supply of affordable and accessible models, and by creating the infrastructure needed to support rapid growth.4
But Blackburn says the lack of public charging infrastructure is the reason many people can be hesitant to make the switch to an electric vehicle.
“Charge anxiety is what’s holding a lot of people back,” he says. “People don’t mind having to recharge, but it’s the access to charging stations that can be a barrier – especially for those who live in apartments or somewhere you might not be able to charge so easily.”
To combat this, the government is planning to roll out a network of 117 EV chargers on key highways across Australia, as well as supporting state and territory EV infrastructure, including the WA Government’s $22.9 million investment to install almost 100 charging stations at 49 locations.4
What are the best electric car brands?
Mention the phrase “electric car” and most people will probably think of American EV powerhouse Tesla. But more and more brands are entering the EV space, including many that may be new to Aussies.
“Tesla is still, without a doubt, the best-selling EV brand in Australia,” says Blackburn. “But there is definitely competition out there, especially from Chinese brand BYD who manufactures the Atto 3, a mid-sized electric SUV you can get under $50,000.”
As of July 2023, there are 91 electric car, van and ute models now available in Australia. However, sales figures show that 68% of electric cars sold in the first six months of 2023 were made up of only three models – Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3 and BYD Atto 3.1
We can expect more big players to enter the market in the near future – including Toyota with their much anticipated first EV, the bZ4X, which is expected to hit our shores soon.
What is the best electric car for you?
Whether you're on a budget and seeking a top-selling model under $50,000 or looking for a luxurious option, finding the best electric car to suit you and your family will depend on factors such as your budget, access to charging infrastructure, and the distance you plan to cover on a single charge.
In terms of cost, consider your car insurance options before making a final decision – Youi’s Car insurance by make and model pages offer useful information about insurance costs for most popular EVs, including Tesla, BYD, MG, Kia, POLESTAR and more.
What are the best electric cars in Australia?
With the endless array of electric vehicles currently on the market, how do you narrow down the options to an EV that suits your lifestyle and tastes?
With Blackburn’s help, as well as car sales data and Australia’s major car awards, we’ve pulled together an overview of some of the best electric cars of 2023. (Note that prices are subject to change and are based on the manufacturers’ suggested retail price for the lowest-priced variant, quoted for postcode 2000 in August 2023, and may not include costs such as stamp duty, other government charges, and options.)
Entry-level electric cars (under $60,000)
An entry-level electric car used to cost upwards of $75,000 but, as the market grows and competition for Australia’s cheapest electric car intensifies, prices are dropping and you can now buy yourself an EV for less than $50,000.6
BYD Atto 3 from $48,0117
The winner of Drive’s Best Electric Car Under $70,000 in 2023 and one of the top-selling electric cars in Australia, the BYD Atto 3 has a roomy interior, user-friendly features and a range of up to 400km, with an option to upgrade to an extended battery range.8, 9
Tesla Model 3 from $57,31410
It’s easy to see why the Tesla Model 3 is the second highest-selling electric car in Australia.1 The Model 3 has a range of 491km, an ANCAP 5-star safety rating and, according to CarsGuide, one of the best executions of an automotive phone app on the market.11
Nissan LEAF from $53,55012
Blackburn points to the LEAF as one of the best small electric cars on the market. It launched way back in 2012 and the second-generation model in showrooms today offers a choice between 39kWh and 59kWh batteries, which have indicative driving ranges of 270km and 385km respectively. As you might have guessed, the more premium of the two models (called the LEAF e+) has a higher price tag, starting at $64,050.12
Mid-range electric cars ($60,000-$80,000)
With Australia’s top-selling electric car in this price bracket, this category presents a host of worthy choices for motorists.1
Tesla Model Y from $65,40013
With a range of up to 455km, the Tesla Model Y accounts for more than 30% of electric car sales in Australia.1 It was also named News Corp’s Car of the Year for 2022 – eclipsing every other car on the Australian market, including petrol and diesel-powered makes and models.14
Hyundai IONIQ 5 from $79,28515
Powered by a 77.4kWh lithium-ion battery with a range of up to 507km, Hyundai’s IONIQ 5 consistently appears in lists of Australia’s best electric cars, with a Drive review saying it “makes for a great option if range is your biggest concern”.16
Kia EV6 from $72,00017
Drive calls the EV6 the “right electric car for 2023”16 while WhichCar? says “there’s arguably no fitter rival for Tesla Model Y”18, so it stands to reason Kia’s EV6 would make an appearance on this list. The EV6 has a 77.4kWh battery pack and a range of up to 528km.19
Luxury electric cars ($80,000+)
It’s no surprise that the higher end of the electric car market has some of the most feature-packed models currently available.
Genesis GV60 from $116, 01820
You’d be forgiven if you’d never heard of this Korean brand, but Blackburn nominates the 2023 model as one to watch. It’s full of features you’d normally find in higher-priced cars, including high-performance charging that can take just 18 minutes to get the battery from 10% to 80%.20
Audi Q8 e-tron, from $139,00021
The release of the anticipated Q8 e-tron sees what WhichCar? calls an “electric pioneering SUV” get a bit of a makeover, with a range of up to 454km, a charge time of just 31 minutes from 10% to 80%, and the largest battery fitted to an Audi EV yet at 106kWh for the base level e-tron 55 Quattro.21, 22
BMW iX3 from $97,05023
The iX3 is the first all-electric BMW sports activity vehicle and boasts a range of up to 460km. According to CarsGuide, “the interior look and feel is straight out of the current BMW design playbook” – which means you’ll get a classic but functional design complete with big digital screens for instrumentation and multimedia.24
What to consider when buying an EV
Before you settle on a particular make or model, there are a few important things to consider, and Blackburn says the first is how and where you’ll charge your new EV.
“The best and most convenient way to recharge an EV is at home, either via a household powerpoint or a special wallbox,” he says. “Using solar to power your car, or choosing a green electricity plan, will make sure you’re maximising the environmental benefits of an EV.”
Remember, charging speeds will depend on the charger you use (either a home charger or a network such as Evie which offers various rates of fast charging), the amount of charge already in the battery, and the model being charged.25
Another important factor to keep in mind is how far you plan to travel on a single charge as some of the cheaper electric cars on the market come with smaller ranges.
With so many electric vehicles to choose from, and new models continuously becoming available in Australia, it’s becoming ever-easier to hit the road in a sustainable fashion. If you’re looking for car insurance to cover your new EV, consider the options available from Youi.
Note: Information in this article is relevant as of September 2023 and by its nature will change over time. Check relevant vehicle manufacturer websites for price and specification updates if this information is important to you.
Article by guest writer Chelsea Spresser
1 Source: Electric Vehicle Council – State of Electric Vehicles, July 2023
2 Source: J.P. Morgan – Supply chain issues and autos
3 Source: NSW Government – Why buy an electric vehicle?
4 Source: Australian Government – The National Electric Vehicle Strategy
5 Available with Comprehensive Car Insurance policies. Exclusions, limits and additional fees may apply. For more details, see the T&Cs and our Car PDS.
6 Source: Drive – The race for Australia’s cheapest electric car in 2023
7 Source: BYD Automotive – BYD Atto 3
8 Source: Drive – Best Electric Car under $70,000 2023
9 Source: Drive – Australia’s best-selling electric cars of 2023 so far
10 Source: Tesla – Model 3
11 Source: CarsGuide – Tesla Model 3 2023 Review
12 Source: Nissan - LEAF
13 Source: Tesla - Model Y
14 Source: news.com.au – 2022 Car of the Year named
15 Source: Hyundai – IONIQ 5
16 Source: Drive – Best EV $70,000-$120,000 2023
17 Source: Kia – Build & Price
18 Source: WhichCar? - 2022 Tesla Model Y vs Kia EV6 comparison review
19 Source: Kia – EV6
20 Source: Genesis – GV60
21 Source: Audi – Q8 e-tron
22 Source: WhichCar? - 2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron international review
23 Source: BMW – iX3
24 Source: CarsGuide - BMW iX3 2022 review
25 Source: Evie - How much does charging cost?