So you have decided to buy an electric car. Good for you, and better for the planet than a fossil burner. But which electric vehicle (EV)?
This guide is for you if you've decided to buy an electric car and want independent, comprehensive and trustworthy advice about which EVs are likely to have the lowest environmental impacts.
We focus on the base models of cars available for sale new in the Australian market costing under $100,000 mid 2023.
Each car is scored according to 3 main criteria:
Carbon emissions over its lifecycle, from manufacture through use to end of life (50%).
Technological advances that will help to reduce the environmental impact of EVs and make them more affordable (25%).
The carmaker's role in helping or hindering, the urgent task of decarbonising, private transport in Australia (25%).
The table on the right summarises the results, up to date on 30 June 2023. The cars at the top received the highest scores out of 100 points.
Click on a car name to see a breakdown of the total score according to the criteria we have used. For more information, please use the website menu above or download the full report (pdf - 2.4Mb).
In choosing a car, most people consider a range of factors like where they live, their family needs, and their budget. We want to give you enough information to influence the environmental part of your decision-making process.
The base or cheapest models usually have the least environmental impacts. Extended range, more powerful or more luxurious variants are likely to receive a slightly (5-10 points) lower overall score.
Also, there are inevitably some value judgements involved. If you would weight the scoring criteria a bit differently, your outcome may be different to ours--especially where two cars receive almost the same score.
No car currently available in Australia comes close to a 100 point score. The EV market is not yet mature, and technological advances are coming thick and fast. We expect scores to gradually increase over time.
If you already have an EV and it has a low score, don’t despair. Your car is still very likely to have a substantially lower lifetime carbon footprint than the nearest equivalent fossil fuel car. Depending on how you drive and recharge it, your EV could be between one-third and two-thirds less polluting than the nearest fossil fuel equivalent.
As electricity grids shift to mostly renewable energy generation, and with the speed of technological advances in this space, the EV advantage will grow over time.