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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.

  • What about cars costing over $100,000?
    There are plenty of EV models costing over $100,000, but they sell in relatively small numbers, so they are not where the real action is needed to drive the mass electrification and decarbonisation of transport. Also, they are mostly big and heavy, and contain luxury fittings and features that use precious resources for private benefit. They might be better than their ICE equivalents, but relative to investment in cheaper small cars and public transport they represent a poor use of resources. (Naturally, the same criticism could be made of big and heavy EVs costing less than $100,000.)
  • Why only base models?
    The first iteration of the guide will focus on the base version of each model, because these usually have smaller environmental footprints than luxury, dual motor or long-range versions, thanks to the latter’s typically larger batteries, multiple motors, bigger wheels, reduced energy efficiency and increased weight. If you are interested in higher-spec variants, you could assume they would receive a slightly lower score–say 5 points.
  • Why only new cars?
    To limit the damage caused by climate change, we need to decarbonise the transport sector urgently. Alongside efforts to reduce the need for individual car ownership and use, this means electrifying cars and other light vehicles, while heavy trucks, buses and train, planes and ships may require a mix of electrification with battery storage and alternative fuels (eg, hydrogen and biofuels). The average car is on Australian roads for about 11 years, so anyone who buys an ICE car now is effectively locking in more carbon emissions for all that time. Every new car choice is effectively a decision to help or hinder the fight against climate change. That said, if you can’t afford a new one, there are some used EVs that represent not just good value for money, but also wise environmental choices.
  • Isn't it better for the environment to keep my old ICE box going as long as possible?
    Only if it is relatively frugal, well maintained and used as little as possible. Otherwise, the answer is probably no. To understand why, please watch this video.
  • Doesn't the environmental impact of an EV depend mostly on how it is driven and charged?
    The carbon emissions created over the lifecycle of an ICE vehicle come mostly through the use of fossil fuels. Compared with ICE cars, and depending on how they are charged, EVs incur more of their environmental impacts in the manufacturing phase, especially because batteries are resource- and energy-intensive. But thanks to improvements in battery technology and supply chain energy input in particular, differences in the emissions incurred in the manufacturing phase between ICE and electric are becoming less significant.
  • Are EVs always a better environmental choice than ICE cars over their lifecycle?
    This guide is not intended to compare EVs and ICEVs, but since you asked, the answer is… in almost all cases, yes. There have now been numerous reputable studies comparing the lifecycle carbon emissions from ICE versus electric cars. Comparing otherwise similar cars, EVs come out ahead, even when they are recharged from a grid supplied mostly by coal and gas power stations.
  • Will the guide be kept up-to-date?
    That’s where you come in. The GECG is a one-off report that was created on our limited internal resources. We would like to turn it into an interactive website that gets updated whenever a new model is available for sale in Australia. For that we need money. It could come from a government grant, philanthropic funding or crowd sourcing—as long as it does not jeopardise our independence and objectivity.
  • None of these cars gets anywhere close to a 100% score. Why?
    Even the best EVs available today in Australia are far from perfect. But there is now an extensive literature to confirm that under almost all circumstances they are a much better solution, particularly in respect of lifetime carbon emissions, than the nearest equivalent ICE cars. And they are getting better all the time, thanks to technological innovation and the gradual replacement of fossil fuels by renewables to generate the electricity used to build and power them. We also hope that this guide will influence carmakers to do better.
  • Won't a "green" EV cost more?
    In the short-term, possibly, yes, because the green car will internalise some of the costs that otherwise would be borne by society at large, such as climate change, air pollution and plastic waste. However, the more consumers vote with their wallets and support green EVs, the less the price difference is likely to be. EVs in general cost a fraction to maintain compared with ICEV, but the guide’s top performing EVs don’t necessarily cost more to maintain than those at the bottom. And the evidence to date is that EVs hold their value well in the used car market.
  • How do we know the EV carmakers' claims are for real?
    It's all about transparency and feedback. Initiatives such as this one aim to hold a spotlight to carmakers’ environmental claims. As the old saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant. We also rely heavily on the years of dogged research and analysis of other climate and environmental groups, both in Australia and internationally. Hopefully we have given credit to them wherever it is due.
  • What about human rights issues?
    Two main issues have been raised in relation to the manufacture of EVs. One concerns the use of child labour in the “artisinal” or small-scale mining of cobalt in the DRC (Congo). The other relates to the use of Uigher people as forced labour in the making of EVs in Xinjiang province in north-west China. TEC strongly supports the ethical development of the EV industry globally. However, this Guide focuses specifically on the environmental impacts of EVs. We have no human rights expertise, so leave these issues to other groups to pursue with our full support. In relation to cobalt and other critical and rare earth minerals, while dated, Responsible Minerals Sourcing for Renewable Energy is a good place to start. In relation to Uigher labour and EV, we suggest starting with Driving Force: Automotive Supply Chains and Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region. One excellent resource which tackles both environmental and human rights issues is Lead the Charge’s Automotive Supply Chain Leaderboard Briefing. In relation to cobalt specifically, it is used with nickel and manganese in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries to increase their energy density, thereby increasing the car’s range. A typical NMC battery has a cathode containing 10-20% cobalt. However, for engineering as well as environmental, human rights, safety, financial and supply chain security reasons many EV makers are seeking to reduce or eliminate the amount of cobalt in their batteries. Or, as Polestar explains it, “Cobalt is a hard metal used to extend battery life in [EV] lithium-ion battery pack. Major risks associated with mining cobalt include forced labour and child labour, corruption, weak rule of law, high-intensity conflicts, and pollution from hazardous materials”. There are environmental concerns–especially in relation to the contamination of land and water resources–with the mining, processing and transport of a whole range of critical and rare earth minerals needed for the transition from fossil fuels to renewables across the whole economy. We hope to have the opportunity to address some of these concerns–and solutions to them–in more detail in later iterations of this Guide.
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