EV Strategy – still waiting

With much of the world powering on with electric vehicle targets and Australia an embarrassing laggard, the Government finally agreed late last year to release an EV strategy in June. So, here we are in July, still no strategy and one of the smallest EV take-ups in the world, too few public charging stations and only a handful of modest, state-based financial incentives.

The Prime Minister’s strategy at the 2019 election was to say Labor’s support for EVs would force tradies to give up their utes, their weekends away and possibly their manhood because EVs can’t tow a van or a trailer. Not true of course – numerous EVs can do that and New Zealand already has 178 heavy EV vehicles on the road – but all part of an election strategy aimed at winning over builders and plumbers.

It shows what dills we have in Government – more interested in point-scoring than weaning the country off the $30 billion a year we pay for imported petroleum that pollutes the atmosphere.

China leads the world in EV sales and sold 1.06 million last year alone. Europe, US, and China accounted for 90% of the 2 million sales globally in 2019. It’s still a small percentage globally but countries around the world are working towards 100% EVs by 2035.

New Zealand has over 14,000 EVs on the road, a target of 64,000 by the end of 2021 and a plan to achieve it, largely with renewable energy. According to the Electric Vehicle Council, Australia has ~16,000 EVs on the road but with 5 times the NZ population.

In Australia 0.5% of new vehicles are electric. In the US, Europe and Asia it’s 3.5%!

Australia’s slow uptake can be put down to no plan, no national coordination and no support.

18 months ago a Senate inquiry into electric vehicles made 17 recommendations but none appears to have been taken up.

The states told the Electric Vehicle Council they were waiting for national policy direction

Australian drivers are doubtless waiting to see what’s in the government’s overdue plan and fair enough but we doubt it will do what other countries have done to improve take-up, ie:

  • Reduce or exempt EVs from taxes and registration fees
  • Provide national planning and incentives for charging station networks
  • Purchase EVs for government fleets 
  • Have fuel efficiency standards in place

There is an understandable reluctance to pay the high upfront cost of EVs – the cheapest Tesla costs $80,000 on the road, others are $50-$60,000.  However, the Electric Vehicle Council says that in addition to the many other advantages, EVs could save ~$6,500/year. See here for the calculator.

EV ranges are improving with better batteries but Australia has less than 2,000 fast chargers and urgently needs a further 350 just to cover the highways on the National Land Transportation Network. Drive Zero has maps showing charger stations but few are fast chargers and there are big gaps in rural areas.

Compelling benefits of EVs

  • Every EV will avoid over 8 barrels of oil/year saving $700/vehicle
  • Our trade deficit could benefit by $8 billion
  • Every EV avoids 150kg of toxic urban pollution year
  • If you use coal-fired power from the grid your net greenhouse emissions drop by 1 tonne/year. If you use green power is 4.6 tonnes saved.
  • EVs can recharge when there is excess off-peak capacity – smoothing the demand load to the advantage of power companies
  • EVS can be used to store and return power to the grid when not in use
  • They need less maintenance with fewer moving parts
  • Smoother, quieter and more efficient in stop-start traffic
  • Can be charged at home with a standard power outlet.

With significant mineral resources and a highly skilled workforce, Australia could benefit economically at every stage of the electric vehicle supply chain. Numerous Australian innovators are already succeeding locally and overseas. Increasing the domestic electric vehicle market has the potential to reinvigorate automotive manufacturing in Australia and create tens of thousands of jobs in new adjacent industries. 

Electric Vehicle Council

An uplifting Australian story

An Australian company, Tritium, started in 2001 by students at the University of Qld who came third in a 1990s World Solar Challenge, are now world leaders in developing EV chargers, employing 300 people and supplying one in five of the DC fast chargers in Europe.

In their latest innovation – a world-first – drivers will be able to plug in, receive a charge, and provide payment all via the charging cable.

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