“What better place?”
It’s how Cupra’s head of marketing described Canberra when officially launching the Spanish carmaker’s first fully electric model at the National Arboretum last week before hundreds of motoring journalists, social media influencers, previous owners and interested buyers eager to get a close-up look at the new Cupra Born.
Typically, the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne are favoured for these types of events, but not for Cupra.
“This city has been the most progressive with electric vehicles,” Sergio Ripolles said.
“What better place than Canberra to launch the Cupra Born, our first electric car?”
It comes as new data shows that nearly one-in-five new cars registered in the ACT is a zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV), either powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.
Registrations have tripled over the past year alone, rising from 6 per cent of new vehicle registrations in 2022 to 18 per cent so far in 2023. Almost 900 new ZEVs have hit Canberra roads this year, cementing the ACT’s place as the national leader for EV take-up.
Cupra is the performance arm of SEAT – owned by Volkswagen – and arrived in Australia in July 2022 with a range of copper-highlighted cars and a new way of doing business. Here in Canberra, the Cupra Garage on Melrose Drive, Phillip, will celebrate its first year in August.
Cupra Master Elliot Morgan described interest in the previously unknown brand as “phenomenal”.
“At the end of the day, we’ve had the highest number of orders and expressions of interest [in Australia] – relative to the population we’re covering – by a country mile.”
Elliott puts some of the success down to the fact Cupra eschews the traditional car dealership for the “agency model”.
Customers essentially buy the car – complete with any accessories – direct from the brand itself rather than the dealer. The sales consultant, or ‘Cupra Specialist’, is largely there to answer questions, talk through features and arrange services.
“We become the singular point of contact for anything the customer needs,” Elliot said.
“Canberrans tend to buy into more premium brands across various industries, so they are used to a high level of customer service, and that is missing in the automotive industry.”
The new Born joins existing plug-in hybrid and internal combustion models in the Cupra range. It uses a 77 kWh battery to provide an estimated 511 km driving range and enough power to hustle it from 0-100 km/h in seven seconds. Pricing starts at $61,990 in the ACT, the lowest figure in the country due to the ACT Government’s stamp-duty waiver for EVs.
“Interest for the Born in the ACT and the surrounding areas has been very, very high,” Elliott said.
“We’ve got test drives booked every day over the next month. It makes sense why they hosted the launch here.”
Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury said more EVs mean more will become affordable for more buyers.
“As the number of ZEVs increases on our roads, we will also see growth in both the second-hand ZEV marketplace and electric vehicle charging stations making EVs more accessible and affordable for households and businesses.”
The ACT Government has also recommitted to ensuring there are “at least 180 public EV chargers in the ACT by 2025”.
Five new ones opened last week: one in Dickson and the other four split evenly between the Canberra Southern Cross Clubs in Woden and Tuggeranong. All five offer dual spots and support simultaneous charging for two electric vehicles each.
These are among 35 chargers Evie is installing in partnership with ActewAGL, driven by the government’s recent $1.4 million investment.