Mini is ahead on its electrification plans in Australia, although the only two electrified models are the Cooper SE full EV three-door hatch and the Countryman plug-in hybrid small SUV, and it still sees a bright future ahead for the latter despite the rising popularity of the former.
Plug-in hybrid electric car (PHEV) demand is still low in Australia, even compared to fully electric cars, despite a torrent of new arrivals across many segments. To put it in perspective, just 4059 new plug-in hybrids have found homes in Australia by the end of August 2022, while over the same period, 54,699 units of plugless or ‘self charging’ hybrids have found a place.
Meanwhile, electric vehicles are up 368.2 per cent year-on-year to 14,524 units.
In short, while the total number of PHEVs being sold has nearly doubled, it’s coming off a low base, and the increases are nothing compared to what we’re seeing for fully electric cars.
Mini is unfazed by this, however, stating the uptake of its Countryman PHEV has been “fantastic” and points to NZ as to what the future can hold for the Australian market.
“If New Zealand is any indication, the demand for PHEVs is going to come up a lot. The Countryman plug-in is one of our hottest sellers in that market,” a company spokesperson told CarsGuide.
New Zealand’s policy environment is much more favourable to electrified vehicles, but hands a particular discount to plug-in hybrids, a category which has not only been overlooked in Australia, but scorned, with jurisdictions like Victoria and South Australia introducing a mileage tax for electrified vehicles.
To compare, in New Zealand, any plug-in hybrid sold under NZ$80,000 attracts a $5750 “clean car discount”, but PHEVs sold in Australia are not only ineligable for the state-based zero emissions vehicle rebates, but in some locations are stung twice by taxes, firstly the 44.2 cent-per-litre fuel excise, and secondly by Victoria’s 2.1-cent-per-km electric vehicle levy.
Victoria is the only location in the world where a tax-based electric vehicle disincentive has actually been implemented, while the South Australian tax is being dumped by its new government.
New South Wales is also looking to introduce a tax on electrified vehicles, but won’t do so until at least July 2027.
The most popular PHEVs in Australia are, unsurprisingly, some of the most affordable, with the MG HS Plus EV (from $48,690 drive-away) being the clear favourite, closely followed by the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV (from $46,990 before on-road costs). Interestingly, despite ranking third, the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e plug-in won’t be replaced when the new-generation model arrives in Australia. Volvo has also dumped its XC40 Recharge PHEV, at one point also one of the top-selling PHEVs in Australia, choosing instead to bring in only the fully electric version in two trim levels.
The Countryman plug-in hybrid, which costs from $64,000 before on-road costs is also set to face new rivals in the form of the Cupra Formentor VZe (From $66,990) and Peugeot 3008 (from $84,790).
As to the future of the Countryman? The second-generation version has been around since 2017, and Mini pointed us to the Aceman concept for hints as to where the brand is moving next. First off the rank though will be the new Cooper, which has officially been shown in camouflage and set to be unveiled in the next 12 months.