The head of Nissan Australia says the country is falling behind other nations in its adoption of zero-emission cars, due to a lack of leadership in Federal Government policies.
"The UK, Norway, Canada, they have all taken a position to say we want to have this particular ambition [to embrace electric vehicles] and we want to guide our policy … to that end" Nissan Managing Director Stephen Lester told The Sydney Morning Herald.
"And I think at this moment, we don’t have that here."
Figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries earlier this week showed a 105.1 per cent increase in local sales of electric vehicles (EVs) so far in 2021, when compared with the same time last year.
"There is no question that EVs are coming and that they are going to be mainstream in the next decade. And that is not the view of just a manufacturer who’s interested, that is the external view by others," Mr Lester said.
"We can debate all of the percentages till we’re blue in the face but the reality is that as they are mainstream, we all play a role."
The Federal Government received criticism from electric vehicle proponents in the industry last year, after a leaked report showed there were no plans to provide financial incentives for EV buyers – a common practice in other countries.
Nissan has sold more than half a million Leaf models in the decade – roughly equivalent to the number of Tesla vehicles built in 2020, across four models – comfortably making it one of the most popular electric production cars ever made.
While the recently-released MG ZS EV has taken the official top spot with 268 vehicles sold in Australia year-to-date – as Tesla does not release Australian sales figures – the Nissan Leaf remains one of the most popular battery-powered models locally, outselling the Hyundai Ioniq and Kona combined, as well as offerings from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar, and BMW.
"The manufacturers play a key role in bringing choice and availability to the market. The private sector can support the build-up of infrastructure and services. And we need the government as another arm of support by giving direction and confidence to consumers," Mr Lester said.
Though EV manufacturer Tesla does not disclose its sales figures in Australia publicly, data obtained exclusively by CarAdvice showed the company sold 3430 models in 2020.
If Aussie buyers continue to drive this trend, electric vehicles could make up as much as 10 per cent of new-car sales before the end of this decade.
"When you consider the access to renewable energy that we have here, when you consider the distance that people actually drive, the adoption of technology, some of the infrastructure that is already built, and the predominance of people living in homes with car parks or driveways already ... there is no reason why we can’t be a global leader," Mr Lester added.