by Daniel DeGasperi

Renault Australia has criticised the federal government for allowing Australia to be one of the last remaining first world countries without legislation to reduce the price of electric vehicles.

Managing director Justin Hocevar says the company cannot import the Renault Zoe (driven here) without assistance that would help bring down the price of its “zero emissions” small hatchback.

“Zoe is something that we are working on [but] it’s still a long way off,” explained Hocevar. “It’s something that would be contingent upon having some incentives in place.


“Until we start to see some level of tariff break, duty concession or some form of incentive on electric vehicles, I don’t think any manufacturer is going to have success with electric vehicles in the Australian market.

“Seeing as Australia seems to be the last bastion of denial when it comes to doing anything to support electric vehicles [even though] it’s good enough for every other developed or developing nation in the world to support the commercialisation of zero emissions vehicle…

“But there’s no policy, not even the Greens have policy on electric vehicles…”


Hocevar says that he could get the Zoe to market without incentives for “substantially less than a [Nissan] Leaf.

“We expect that Zoe would probably, depending on how the vehicle was specced, be somewhere in the low-to-mid 30s driveaway [without incentives],” Hocevar hypothesised.

He did however add that even at that price, which would make it the cheapest electric vehicle available on the Australian market, the size-smaller-than-a-Leaf Renault would not be necessarily seen as an attractive proposition.


“I think that … the premium end of that vehicle’s size and segment is in the mid-to-high 20s [thousands], and I think if you wanted to compete and do some serious volume [you would need to be] probably within five to 10 per cent of that premium end. If that car [Zoe] was sub-$30,000 driveaway, I think there’s a place for it.”

For the Renault Zoe to be priced that way, however, incentives are required due to the high cost of lithium-ion batteries, predominently. While acknowledging that if the price of batteries fell the Zoe could become more price-competitive, Hocevar claimed that “there’s no scale to the [battery] business at this point” and therefore there isn’t the volume to force the price to drop.

Hocavar confirmed that Renault hasn’t teamed up with group bedfellow Nissan to badger the government to introduce EV legislation, however, saying that “it’s not easy to get anyone to focus on this as a [government] agenda item”.

  • Daniel

    Correct me if I’m wrong but are EVs really selling anywhere? There was the story about the Focus EV un the US not selling and the Leaf isn’t doing so well. But at least on a local scale nobody’s buying the Leaf and Nissan is a trusted brand here. Maybe they want to start selling conventional Meganes in decent numbers before they bring in a small expensive EV.

    • Leafboi

      Seems you don’t get out much… LEAF supply in the US is under pressure, ie they can’t make them fast enough (batteries take time). Ford is the only manufacturer with multiple plug in, plug in hybrid and regular hybrid models. Also the US’ 100,000th ev was sold in June, it was an I-miev. Australia is just so far behind with everything. Small consumer base and somewhat unstable politics don’t help. Meanwhile driving my LEAF around Melbourne for 1c per km I’m all ev grin.

      • Daniel

        I get out very often, thank you. I’m just blessed not to have the kinds of friends who talk EV sales figures in other continents.

        • Leafboi

          The point of talking figures from ‘other continents’ is because AU is as I said a small consumer base and lacking government policy to help promote clean transport options.

        • Leafboi

          The getting out much..? Ha, as in thinking beyond our small backyard that is the great land down under.

    • jwy

      They’re selling in USA, Japan and selected European countries. Not in huge numbers and only certain models are selling moderate numbers.

      – Nissan is selling about 3500 Leafs month now which is almost double what they were selling last year.
      – Tesla has a long waiting list for their cars and production is going flat out at about 2000 cars a month and so far that is limited to USA only.
      – If you consider the Volt a EV, they’re selling about 5000 a month now to USA and selected EU.
      – Mitsubishi iMiev is way too expensive and is only selling a trickle.
      – Focus EV has only been on sale in selected USA states and it was too expensive and Focus in general is not a popular car in the USA. With the price drop and sales to EU where people love the Focus should pick up sales.

      • Darryl

        They sold 134000 Focuses to June YTD in the US – similar numbers to the Cruze. And 2200 Leafs a month in the US alone. Have a look at GCBC site for sales numbers in the States, quite interesting.

      • MisterZed

        You’re wrong about Volt selling 5,000 a month in the US. It currently sells around 1650 per month on average. The LEAF also sells in similar numbers in the US.

        • he

          What part of “selling in the USA, Japan and European countries” do you not understand?

          • MisterZed

            He said “they’re selling about 5000 a month now to USA and selected EU.” If Volt is only selling 1650 a month in the US, there’s no way the numbers are anywhere near 5000 in total worldwide. Export markets might add another 1000 max, bringing the total up to somewhere like 2500.

          • hrt

            USA sales for Volt last month were 2698 and Leaf 2225.
            Get with the times.
            The original comment wasn’t exclusively about USA anyway, there are other countries involved. How could the global total of Volt sales be 2500 a month when they sold more than that last month in USA alone?

          • MisterZed

            What’s your point? The month before that, Volt sales were 1607, and only 1306 in April.

          • l2one

            The point is that people are buying EVs in some parts of the world and they aren’t restricted to the USA.

            Your bickering over particular numbers, months and countries is about as useless as your complaints about unpainted mirrors or fuel caps being on the “wrong side”.

            EV sales on the whole are increasing all the time, so to see that people are buying them, one should be using the latest figures not old ones.

            But if you want to satisfy your agenda that no one is buying them, just go back a further than a few months ago and you’ll find sales of EVs were zero.

    • Gus

      fun fact: when the tsunami hit japan and they had blanket power outages, the vast numbers of hybrid and plugin EV owners used their cars to power most households essentials until the power came back on a few days later

  • LC

    Renault thinks it’s bad now? Didn’t they hear that the government is going to levy whopping taxes on EVs in order to make up for the money they won’t bring in through the petrol excise?!

  • Karl Sass

    Tesla has proven 2 things about customer preferences of EVs.
    1 People are more concerned about range than cost (needs minimum 250km+) and;
    2 make sure it looks good!

    • Doc

      Teslas look really good. WHERE have these Ameriacn designers been hiding? And how come GM, Ford -and Chrysler NEVER found them?

      • jwr

        “Franz von Holzhausen” is the chief designer and by the sounds of his name and the quality of his work, I’m guessing he isn’t a American.

  • Dave W

    There ya go govt. Subsidise EV and ban people from driving under 10km from home to work unless it’s in a small EV like the Renault Twizy. Less pollution and traffic.

    • LC

      Subsidize EVs? Sure.

      Ban short trips in vehicles other than EVs? Yeah mate, good luck getting support for and enforcing that.

      • Dave W

        They’ll figure something out. They managed to put a 24hr bus lane on Epping Rd when there isn’t even 24hr bus service. lol

        • LC

          Not exactly confidence-inspiring stuff.

  • Doc

    Jsut a question….what if everyone has converted to EV, and big business decides to increase the price of electricity 3- or 5. – fold, as greedy business is prone to do? Because electricity is ALSO produced using FOSSIL FUEL. Are we just creating a MIDDLE MAN (electric companies) a who can now DICTATE the cost of power?

    • Leafboi

      Great question! Power generated with coal cost money to build the plant, the mine, the transport system for the coal, etc. the list goes on for fossil fuel power generation costs. The power generated with a wind turbine cost the money to build it and maintain it. No fuel costs result in cheaper energy. Also no one is stopping anyone from installing solar so they can produce their own energy. Hope that helps answer your question.

      • Doc

        Sounds good! Wdnt it be great if we build the car bodies entirely of solar panels! Also freeway barriers. Sure it wd be expensive, but the free energ generated shd offset the cost of the panels. Thanks for the answer.

    • jty

      Just a question what if big business decides to increase the price of oil? Same scenario, except that the difference is that is it far easier for people to generate their own electricity than it is to make your own oil.
      Your question doc is pointless as is your random use of capitals.

      • Doc

        Hmmmmm…. Agree. But we are not there yet making our own electricity. If we were, then everyone would be driving EVs. (Dang, i forgot my random caps. May i highlight instead?). :). Just joshing u, jty. Cheers.

        • safh

          Perhaps where you live.

          Where I live solar panels are readily available and about 1 in 5 houses already have them.

          There is also no prerequisite to needing to making your own electricity and owning a EV. Where on earth does that analogy come from?
          My parents have had a large 30 panel Solar system for several years and have been getting paid around $700 a quarter by the power company for their excess electricity. No EV in their garage.

          • Leafboi

            Then maybe they should get one, free transport sounds good to me. With their $700 per quarter ‘income’ from the PFIT I’m presuming it seems they took ‘advantage’ of the offer and installed a full 5kwh system. I’m sure they have made their money back by now so getting an EV and driving it for free should seem like a no brainer to them..?

          • safh

            They’d never spend more than $20K on car so a EV for them is out of the question (for now).

            In any case, they wouldn’t charge it on the solar anyway. I think their feed in rate is 44c (QLD) and overnight on off peak they pay about 11c per KWH, so they far better off to sell the solar electricity during the day and charge the car from the mains overnight on off peak.

  • Nate

    Why should the government subsidise everything?

    Get real Renault.

    • Leafboi

      Yeah I totally agree! Lets get rid of subsidies. Especially the $10b per annum Australia spends on oil/coal/gas subsidies. The FY 2011-12 was $12b. 😉

    • Modern Man

      Lets not subsidie anything and send all jobs offshore.

      Close manufacturing and farming, make people unemployed, and we will become a full importer of everything we buy or use. that’ll solve the issue.
      if you dont believe this is what would happen considering every other develpoed nation subsidises their industries to protect them from cheap labour/products then you might need to speak to an economist.
      can you work for $5- an hour? what about 7 days a week at that rate?
      didnt think so.