As usual, January sees a flurry of vehicle launches (and promises) for the New Year, joining the many more that were formally promised or announced last year for 2024.
More, again, are rumoured to be in the wings, but these may (or more likely, may not) happen. So what are we likely to see? And what are the rumoured ones that we should perhaps not give credence to until we get proper confirmation?
The passenger vehicle list of confirmed 2024 arrivals runs out to around 30 additional models. (With around 50 passenger car model here now: that’s a 60% increase).
In addition, BEVs have been around long enough for us to also be getting a number of mid-model refresh versions. (These include the Mercedes EQA and EQB, MG ZS EV, Peugeot e-2008, Tesla Model Y and LDV e-T60).
Electric light commercial vehicles (LCVs) will see an injection of numbers too. Currently around 14 are available – however that number is set to more than double with 16 on the ‘coming’ list!
Will we see many sub-$40k models?
The short answer is no. It seems manufacturers think there is still a good proportion of cashed up potential battery electric vehicle (BEV) buyers out there to profit from before they see a need to cater for the budget conscious.
So whilst there might be a bit of price competition between the existing $40k incumbents, there are currently no new ones coming to choose from. (Barring surprise announcements from the Chinese manufacturers).
Mind-you, the on-the-road entry price for well appointed, 400km+ driving range BEVs in 2024 will begin with a 5 in front, instead of the 6, 7 or even 8 that we have become accustomed to.
Coming passenger cars in that $50k bracket will include the Cherry Omoda 5 and VW ID.3, whilst the $50k e-LCV market will see the Victory EC1 light truck and 1 tonne van.
Will we see many new manufacturers?
In the passenger car market, most of this year’s entrants will be late-comer incumbents. VW are going to arrive in style with 4 models before the end of the year: the ID.3, 4 and 5 – plus the highly anticipated reborn ‘combi van’ – the ID.Buzz.
Toyota, Nissan and Subaru will arrive late to the party with (respectively) the bZ4X, Ariya and Solterra.
Peugeot will add to their stable with the e-208 small passenger car and e-3008 SUV. Ford will add the Puma and e-Transit custom van. The e-LCV market will however see several new manufacturers. Of the 16 new e-LCV models mentioned, 5 are from manufacturers not seen here before, plus more from recent entrants JAC and Foton.
On the new entrant front, Asiastar will arrive with under 4.5t gross van, bus and cab chassis options (distributed through Foton) and Victory will also break onto the scene with their 1t load EC1 light truck and EC2 van options. (Distributed by EV Automotive).
Will we see more utes?
Short answer: some, but not many. LDV did promise their full BEV GST ‘lifestyle’ ute by the end of this year, although that may now be preceded by a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version instead and the full-electric in 2025.
They will however be bringing an update of the e-T60 dual cab here ‘sometime’ this year. As mentioned earlier, Victory will start with a business oriented single-cab ute at a budget price.
Rumours have abounded regarding several others, but none yet have been announced for Australia. (That list includes a single cab Toyota Hilux, a possible Mitsubishi dual-cab and the ever-on-the-horizon Rivian R1T).
What aren’t we likely to see in 2024?
The EV buying public has long been subject to on-again-off-again model rumours – as well as long delays to officially announced ones! In that latter category are the Nissan Ariya, Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra. For those who were waiting on the Nissan Leaf updates from 2012 to 2018, this is nothing new.
In the former category – perhaps the most noticeable are the Aptera, Rivian R1T, Ford F150 Lightning and Tesla Cybertruck. Of these five, Rivian early on did promise that Australia would be their first market after the US. Rivian have since been going through their version of the ‘production hell’ that automotive start-ups seem to necessarily go through.
As a result, their plans have changed and Rivian’s first international market is to now be the EU. I would say 2025 or even 2026 before Rivian start to sell here.
The F150 Lightning is officially not on Ford Australia’s list and is not built in right-hand drive. (Although at least one privately imported and converted Lightning has been seen in Brisbane, plus a left-hand drive ‘evaluation’ vehicle has been seen in Melbourne). Ford Australia have said they would love to bring it here ‘sometime’ – but it is a definite ‘no’ for 2024, and probably 2025 as well.
As for the Cybertruck – well, it is on Tesla Australia’s website, but only for information purposes. You can’t order one here yet. Given the usual ‘Tesla Time’ factor – that could mean an Australian arrival of 2026 or beyond.
Sadly, the most hyped of the five listed – the Aptera (pictured at top) – remains in ‘never-never’ land, especially for Australia. The Aptera is a radically shaped, two passenger vehicle with lots of luggage space.
It is lightweight, has super-low drag figures and includes solar charging assistance with panels built into its upper surfaces. Together, these give phenomenal kWh/100km efficiency figures. For most people, the design would offer a very practical, ‘lighter footprint’ alternative to the ubiquitous SUV.
However, Aptera has yet to sell even one vehicle in their home market (the USA), plus its radical design has not gone through any form of crash testing. In addition – it may not even meet the requirements in Australia for registration as a passenger vehicle.
On top of these are the plethora of Chinese manufactured BEVs plus some from Vietnamese manufacturer Vinfast. (Vinfast are already selling in other international markets).
There may also be a potential onslaught of Indian EV manufacturers, including four rumoured to be coming from Mahinda. All of these may see announcements during 2024, but we are unlikely to see actual vehicles from these manufacturers until 2025 or 2026 at the earliest.
So 2024 is shaping up for an explosion of EV models in many segments to offer greater choice to, er, the more cashed-up buyer. (This includes the first open-top BEV convertible: the MG Cyberster, at a likely price of just over $100k!)
It will probably need a dip in BEV uptake figures before the manufacturers finally pull the covers off their more budget-friendly models. There is after all, a finite number of well-off vehicle buyers before that segment of the market becomes saturated!)
My guess is it will be 2025 before I can finally say the sub-$40k market is going to take-off properly. ( By that time, future versions of this article may also start listing the diminishing number and options for ICE models available here … )
In the meantime – if you want to check many of the current and soon-to-come BEV models (and will be in Sydney February 9 to 11) – I would suggest you check out the Everything Electric Show (formerly called Fully Charged Live).
Many BEV manufacturers will have stands there, plus you can take many of the EVs there for a test drive on the day. You can get a 20 per cent discount by going to the tickets page at Everything Electric: https://au.everythingelectric.show/ and putting in the code DRIVEN.