Tesla? No. Merc… not yet. Why there’s not a single EV I would buy today

The question I am most often asked – on an almost equal footing with “how do you stay so young, vibrant and virile at your age?” – is what EV should I buy?

Many people, who obviously mistakenly think that journalism is better paid than being a school teacher, or a cat groomer, follow this up with the secondary question of what EV I would buy, if I haven’t got one already.

But here is the sad, awful truth – there is not, at present, a single electric vehicle on the market in Australia that I would, or could, buy. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like an EV, nor that I don’t like driving them, I’m just saying that every single model currently on sale is knocked out of my consideration set on the basis that they either don’t align with my personal desires, or they’re too expensive, or in many cases both.

Now, before the Musk lovers get all a twitter up the back, yes, the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y are very fine machines, particularly the Performance variants, and I can see why so many of you have bought one (although I don’t know why you need to bang on about it so much).

Personally, it’s about $30,000 more than I’d be willing or able to spend on a new car, but the fact is I wouldn’t buy a Tesla anyway, because if I did I’d look in the mirror and see a sheep in man’s clothing, and a wankerd (a combination between a wanker and a nerd). A Tesla aligns with my personal brand the way a Make America Great Again baseball cap does, sadly.

I could almost, almost be tempted by the Genesis GV70 Electrified, because it’s a surprisingly fine vehicle that I found enjoyable to drive and borderline stylish, but it is immediately struck down by it’s price and the far more important fact that it’s an SUV, and I plan to buy one of those just after it starts snowing in Hell (I like to picture Scott Morrison and Cardinal Pell throwing snowballs at Tony Abbott and Hitler in this particular snow storm). I really like the look of the GV60, too but it’s also an SUV, so no dice (the shortage of station wagon shaped vehicles, my personal preference for a family car, in the EV market is a real problem).

While we’re shopping in Korea, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6 are also cars that I quite enjoy driving (the EV6 GT is hugely entertaining, in fact), but there is no way I would buy one even if I had the money because they look like they were designed to shout one thing and one thing only “Look, look at ME! I bought an EV! Love me! Admire me!”

EV comparison test: Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive v Kia EV6 Air v Hyundai Ioniq 5 RWD v Polestar 2 Long Range FWD
Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive, Kia EV6 Air, Hyundai Ioniq 5 RWD and Polestar 2 Long Range FWD

I’m not saying they’re ugly, but I might be heavily hinting it.

The Polestar is one vehicle that’s not been smacked with the ugly stick, and I don’t mind it, but I can’t get excited about it, looking at it wouldn’t thrill me on a daily basis, nor would driving it, and for the kind of money it costs I’d want to be tumescent every time I touched the key.

At the very top end of the price problem is the Porsche Taycan range, but again, even I won the lottery repeatedly, I wouldn’t go there. The Taycan is very clever, it is absurdly fast and it might just be the best EV a lot of money can buy, but it’s still too big, too fat, too Panamera-esque to be a proper Porsche, and for as long as there’s still a 911, I’d be slapping my money down on one of those.

If Porsche had a Cayman-sized EV in the showroom (an EV Porsche sports car is in the works), then I might start to be tempted, but again, only post Lotto wins.

Obviously, there are cheaper electric cars on the market, but, for now, they are all Chinese and I’m  not just reticent about buying a car made in that country, I’m resistant. Indeed, I think I’d rather set fire to my money while standing in an asbestos shower than buy any of them.

The EV I’ve probably enjoyed the most was the Hyundai Kona EV, and I’m aware that there’s a new and better one coming, but while it’s small and borderline cute to look at it, it’s still an SUV, and when you feel the interior plastics and ponder paying almost $60k for one, you experience the kind of emotions you’d feel if someone asked you to pay $45 for a Big Mac.

Sure, it’s fair to say that my personal restrictions – no SUVs and nothing expensive – make it difficult for me to find any cars that I would actually buy with my own money, and I’m basically restricted to buying second-hand vehicles by my financial tightness, but even on that list, there is not one single EV. 

I’m very glad that other people are buying them, people with money, but for me the wait for an EV I’d actually want to buy goes on.  

Stephen Corby

Stephen is a former editor of both Wheels and Top Gear Australia magazines and has been writing about cars since Henry Ford was a boy. Initially an EV sceptic, he has performed a 180-degree handbrake turn and is now a keen advocate for electrification and may even buy a Porsche Taycan one day, if he wins the lottery. Twice.

8 thoughts on “Tesla? No. Merc… not yet. Why there’s not a single EV I would buy today

  • March 6, 2023 at 10:10 am

    I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but I agree with pretty much 100% of what you Have written. I appreciate your frankness in writing this EV review.

  • March 7, 2023 at 9:02 am

    Resistant to purchasing Chinese cars? Like Tesla? Like Polestar? Like Volvo? Come on, you know what your comment is about…at best it’s the ‘Jap crap’ mentality of the 1970s at worst it is ‘yellow peril’ racism that the Chinese community has had to endure since they first came here. Better not watch your tv, use your phone, wash your clothes or switch on your lights; because you will be using Chinese tech…and that frightens you!

    • March 7, 2023 at 2:04 pm

      Agree 100%, GregF.
      China makes very, very good EVs, in very large numbers, and they’re affordable (in EV terms) too. They also make the phones, fridges, laptops, TVs, solar panels, air conditioners and almost everything else we all like. China also leads the way in battery technology, which is the cornerstone of the EV industry.
      China does tech very well.

      As a journalist on an EV web site, it would seem prudent to accept that, sooner or later.

      It’s also a little strange that the ‘never get an EV from China’ brigade are, by default, effectively choosing to stay reliant on oil from Saudi Arabia, or paying huge amounts for a made-in-Europe EV. Is that really a ‘win’?

  • March 7, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    Suggesting I wouldn’t buy a Chinese EV right now has nothing to do with racism, indeed I love my Chinese-made iPhone, fridge, etc, a lot. And even a Chinese-made Tesla – I believe all the ones coming into Australia are built there – is not bad. But there’s a perceived quality about Chinese cars, literally a stench about them (nasty, cheap-smelling plastics), that I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with. No matter the price.

    • March 13, 2023 at 9:58 am

      I would just like to point out that should you keep your current car, or rather, continue driving a petrol car for the next ten years, you, as an average driver will likely spend $30,000 on petrol. Plus all the other service costs.
      I have bought a Polestar 2 dual motor. Total cost after tax incentives was a “seemingly” staggering $76,000. Wait, .. Yes, I know.
      My “fuel” costs (off peak home charging), (we don’t drive more than 400km/day very often do we) are easily less than $2.00/100km. So, over the next 10years, having an EV, could, and in my case will save at least $27,000.
      (15,000kms/year. Total cost comfortably under $300 per year). Even if you have to charge at a more expensive public charger from time to time, it won’t break the bank like your current car does!
      If you were to factor that into the cost of car ownership, suddenly you see that EVs are in fact cheaper to own.
      With Vehicle to Grid on the horizon, you will also be able to REDUCE your home power bills too. It is a no brainer mate!!
      By the way, the Polestar puts a smile on my face every time I see it or sit in it.
      Totally agree with you about wagons, SUVs, Tesla, etc.
      The notion of a wagon variant of the Polestar 2 has been submitted to the design department at Polestar. Whether they run with it, time will tell.
      Please, be open minded and do the sums comprehensively.
      Batteries are expected to outlive the car these days.
      I expect to see you out and about, saving $ by the km very soon.

    • March 13, 2023 at 3:35 pm

      Surely reality is far more important that perception?
      While my Chinese EV has 45,000 km with no servicing required, though I realise this isn’t a high number, it is a start.
      As for bad smell when new, can’t say I noticed any, as opposed to an ICE.

  • March 14, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t have the money to buy a new Tesla outright… so after long waiting I decided to novated lease the car, and I’ve heard some energy supplier(s) will do this, I’m happy to announce I save about $100 a fortnight on a Tesla M3RWD compared to to a comparable ICE vehicle. Have travelled 17300km so far since end September.

  • March 21, 2023 at 6:07 pm

    For me in 2023-2024 it’s really a shortlist of just 1: Tesla Model 3 Base model RWD. This car would almost work for me if it was $10K cheaper (i.e. max $60K drive-away including the non-white paint) and if it had front and rear parking assistance (this feature was deleted by Tesla in 2021-2022 and no substitute provided!!) and the lack of heads-up-display. All other EVs on sale today I would not consider for too many reasons not worthy of comment.

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