Plug-in hybrids remain a substantially less popular choice in Australia than either conventional Toyota-style hybrids or battery electric vehicles, alike.

    According to sales data supplied by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, 3372 PHEVs found buyers in 2021. That was up 99.4 per cent year-on-year, but still represented just 0.3 per cent of the total new car market.

    By contrast, conventional hybrids found 70,466 buyers (up 20.3 per cent), while electric vehicles counted by VFACTS totalled 5149 (up 191.1 per cent) – a figure that excludes Tesla, which we believe sold 10,000-12,000 Model 3s last year on top of this.

    For those not across the technology, ‘stepping stone’ plug-in hybrids offer daily electric-only range with a petrol engine-generator backup to mitigate range anxiety. In terms of price they sit between hybrids and EVs.

    If there is one market segment where PHEVs are getting some sort of cut-through, it’s medium SUVs – with the top four-selling plug-in hybrid models all falling into this category.

    Squeaking into first was Australia’s most established PHEV, the Mitsubishi Outlander, with 592 sales equal to just over 4 per cent of the Outlander’s total. It edged out the newer MG HS on 580 sales, equal to around 8.5 per cent of that model’s total.

    Expect this duo to stay on top this year too. A brand new Outlander PHEV with much longer electric range arrives in the first half, while MG will expand the HS Plus EV range with a cheaper base variant priced closer to $40,000 in January.

    Next in the pecking oder were two more luxurious options: the Volvo XC60 (308, equal to 8.4 per cent of that model’s total) and the Mercedes-Benz GLC (also 308, 8.9 per cent).

    PHEV sales in 2021:

    ModelSales 2021
    Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV592
    MG HS Plus EV580
    Volvo XC60 Recharge PHEV308
    Mercedes-Benz GLC300e308
    Volvo XC40 Recharge PHEV288
    Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV229
    Volvo XC90 Recharge PHEV170
    BMW 330e150
    Mini Countryman Hybrid141
    Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid122
    BMW X5 xDrive45e118
    Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid68
    Mercedes-Benz A250e66
    Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid60
    BMW X3 xDrive30e37
    Ferrari SF90/296 GTB25
    BMW 530e22
    Mercedes-Benz E300e20
    Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid15
    Mercedes-Benz C300e13
    Range Rover Sport PHEV11
    Peugeot 3008 GT Sport Plug-in11
    BMW 745e6
    Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid6
    Peugeot 508 GT Plug-in Hybrid5
    Range Rover PHEV1

    While PHEVs remain niche in Australia, there are numerous new plug-in hybrid models launching here during the course of 2022, which should produce another year of growth.

    Some of the anticipated new PHEVs on the way in 2022 include the following, with the anticipated launch times listed:

    MORE: Toyota hybrids break sales record, despite shortages
    MORE: MG sees mainstream growth potential in HS plug-in hybrid
    MORE: Mitsubishi’s problem? Australians don’t know what plug-in hybrids are

    MORE: Mercedes-Benz defends PHEVs as more than a ‘compliance trick’

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers