Scott Morrison and I agree: "What Australians have always expressed a preference for is the vehicles that have a bit of grunt and a bit of power, because they like to enjoy the great recreational opportunities that are out there."
I'll be honest - I've never wanted a sensible car. As a young mum driving a hideously practical white seven-seater station wagon, my inner self desperately wanted an opalescent Holden Special Vehicle, preferably of the ute variety. My brother bought himself a Mazda RX-8 and I was jealous. I drove it once. Sublime. Vroom.
We eventually bought a Tarago after the seven-seater was no longer enough, but inside every Tarago owner is a Mustang fantasiser. I found myself making eye contact with women and men my age driving glorious McLarens or Lotuses. My secret dream. Speed, power, utterly gorgeous. This is completely out of keeping with everything else about me. Intellectually, I want sustainability. Emotionally, vroom, vroom, vroom.
My motoring aim now? To buy an electric vehicle. After our loyal Tarago died shortly after its 300,000-kilometre anniversary, we bought an effing useless little red European number which died in late August.
August 2021. There's a pandemic on. Massive supply chain crisis. Superconductor shortages. Also I haven't been car shopping for so long I have no idea how to go about it. Plus, my last memories of talking to car salesmen are of them ignoring me and talking to my husband, whose interest in cars is less than mine. I resist someone on Twitter telling me cars will bring about the end of the world as we know it and I should be ashamed of myself.
I asked the chief executive of the Electric Vehicle Council, Behyad Jafari, to explain why it was so freaking hard.
Jafari, a brand new dad with an eye on the future, explains Australia is really limited in the choice of vehicles we have here. The government doesn't recognise that its approach means manufacturers don't choose to send their best range of cars to us.
I understand. He is basically saying we are at the arse-end of the Earth - but very politely. This means any vehicle which makes its way to us is going to be expensive. Jafari is puzzled by the government's refusal to offer rebates or incentives. "Get the market started," he implores decision-makers.
But here's the best advice this EV advocate wants to give government.
"Stop saying stupid things. We are in a global race to attract investment in products and services. The government is just dipping its toe in the water while every other country has been doing it for years.
"It's like they have just discovered electric vehicles."
We need to buy cars which use less fuel, because those emissions are buggering up the world. Can-do capitalism, how the Prime Minister characterises his approach, should be on board with this need. It just isn't. All the charging stations in the world won't help someone buy these cars.
So, it is August 2021, and it is not possible to have a test drive of anything. Also, it is August 2021 and I know absolutely I am not allowed to buy anything which goes vroom.
What to do?
I ask complete strangers about buying cars. Some are obviously captive to the Prime Minister's lies. "An electric car will destroy your weekend," "they aren't reliable," "you can't go further than the local IGA because there is nowhere to charge them." This is a problem, because I love my weekends and at least one of my grandchildren is old enough to abandon his parents and come gallivanting with Grandpa and Grandma to the beach. I spent some time researching all of that, asking various close hoons (hi bro, hello Alan Zurvas of Gay Car Boys) about their views.
The car I want costs double what I can afford. Plus there is no stock. What I can afford will not fit two grandchild-sized safety seats in the back and allow room for anything else, like Eskies and boogie boards.
Eventually we realise we have no hope of buying an electric car, and the next best thing - what The Canberra Times's Peter Brewer describes as good bridging technology, the hybrid - has a waiting list as long as the time it will take my newest grandchild to graduate from school. Stephen Corby of EVcentral.com.au, a former editor of Wheels and a veteran car reviewer, tries to cheer me up by telling me a hybrid is a good Band-Aid.
"But for future-proofing yourself and the environment, EVs are the way."
He, too, is baffled by the federal government's decision not to offer incentives. He comforts me by explaining that if I wanted the EV equivalent of the RAV4, I'd have to spend close to another 30 grand.
So, what to do? Buy a second-hand hybrid? Well, no. There aren't many. The ones on sale cost as much as a new one.
In the end, I wrote to every Toyota dealer within 1000 kilometres of my home. It was Saturday night and all my anxiety was focused on my impending carlessness. Sunday morning I looked at my emails, because I am a loser.
Raff emails me with his phone number. I shouldn't really ring anyone at sparrow's on a Sunday morning, but he's clearly up.
So long as I don't care about the colour, or the fact the vehicle has a full spare, he's got a cancellation. Toyota then sends me an email with various promotional material, including this claim: "We are determined in making this process simple and enjoyable by offering competitive prices and outstanding customer service." The bit about the competitive prices is a little fib, because in a shortage it is a seller's market - and I, sadly, am a buyer.
And I bought. Without a test drive or even a sit-in. It didn't send me broke. It's as close as I can get to what I want. Astonishingly, it goes vroom.
- Jenna Price is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University and a regular columnist.