Electric vehicles, or EVs, are growing in popularity around the world, but Australia has been labelled a bit of a laggard when it comes to encouraging and promoting EV uptake. Let’s look at what’s happening in Australia.
Fast Facts on EVs in Australia
Courtesy of the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC)
- There are 15 fully electric car models currently available in Australia, with 22 more expected by the start of 2023
- Vehicle pollution causes over 1,700 deaths each year in Australia, 50% higher than annual car crash deaths
- Cheaper EVs can travel around 300km on one charge, with more expensive models providing over 500km per charge (the average Australian travels 36km per day)
- There are over 2000 charging stations around the country
- EVs can save the average Australian driver over $1,500 a year on fuel
- In 2020, there were 6,900 EVs sold in Australia, up 2.7% on those sold in 2019. This accounts for 0.7% of total Australian car sales in 2020
Australian Attitudes to EVs
There is growing consumer appetite for EVs in Australia. A survey carried out of 2,902 respondents across four Australian states for the EVC, found that 56% of surveyed consumers would now consider purchasing an EV as their next car, continuing an upward trend. Spurring this sentiment was a focus on the environmental benefit, lower running and maintenance costs and relative performance. The biggest barriers to purchasing EVs were misconceptions surrounding lack of access to chargers, purchase cost, and uncertainty over driving range (which we address all of in other post – check it out here!).
Notably, respondents overwhelmingly support government policies to support EV uptake. The EVC 2020 State of EVs Report prioritised subsides to reduce the cost of purchasing an EV, public charging infrastructure, subsidies to reduce cost of installing a residential charger and discounts on registration, stamp duty and toll roads. What is government policy and action in this area?
What’s Happening in EV Policy in Australia?
Unfortunately, national policies regarding EV in Australia are not where many would like them to be. Ranking the 5th worst for transport energy efficiency of those ranked by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Australia has a considerable lack of mandatory vehicle efficiency standards, adopted by 80% of the world, leading to foreign manufacturers selling their least-efficient cars here. Our new vehicle efficiency is worse than Saudi Arabia, the USA, the EU and China. Some brands, like Volkswagen, didn’t sell a single EV in Australia in 2020. Why? They didn’t supply any due to the lax environmental standards here – they see no commercial advantage in a country where petrol and diesel cars are so predominant and no incentives for consumers to buy their products.
The lack of incentives and strong policies means less supply from car companies and hence there is a low uptake of EVs in Australia. For comparative purposes – EVs accounted for just 0.7% of new car sales in 2020. In Norway, they account for 40%.
Why We Should Improve EV Policy in Australia
Transport accounts for 19% of Australia’s emissions and is expected to grow. Increasing the uptake of EVs will have a positive impact on this figure. EVs have zero exhaust emissions – a big win when compared with petrol/diesel cars. EVs are powered by electricity, so how good environmentally they are depends on where the electricity comes from. Places with higher renewables providing their electricity, see a better environmental benefit. That said, even if the majority of electricity comes from fossil-fuels, studies show that EVs are still more environmentally friendly than petrol/diesel cars – just not as good as if powered by renewable electricity.
Being Left Behind
As international markets spur the growth and development of EVs, there is an ‘expiry date’, if you will, for petrol and diesel cars – and Australia is not immune. Car manufacturers will not continue to make right-hand drive petrol cars just for Australia, it just won’t be feasible – so we will be left behind.
There are many opportunities for Australia to embrace and engage the EV market, most notably through the resources we have. Australia is the biggest producer and exporter of lithium – a key component for EV batteries. Instead of exporting this lithium, we could set up our own EV manufacturing plants – creating jobs, boosting the EV market, and having a broad positive impact.
The Good News
Whilst all the above is true, all hope is not lost for EV uptake in Australia. With all States and Territories committed to Net Zero Emissions by 2050, they are taking the lead for an EVolution. Here is some of the good stuff:
The NSW Government has a plan to convert its entire bus fleet to electric by 2030. To help achieve this, the first full Australian designed and built electric bus was trialled in Sydney in March this year. Its success has seen bus routes across NSW switched to electric buses and there are plans to further expand trials around the state.
The Vic Government wants half of all new cars sold in Victoria by 2030 to be zero emissions and is providing 20,000 subsidies of up to $3,000 for new EV purchases under $69,000. They too are pursuing the electrification of buses, with an electric bus now running on route 251 between the city and Northland Shopping Centre. The trial continues until the end of October 2021, with the hope electric buses can be rolled out across the state.
The WA Government has a State Electric Vehicle Strategy which encompasses a $21 million investment that includes supporting the creation of an EV charging infrastructure network covering Perth to Kununurra, Esperance and Kalgoorlie.
Based in Tasmania, the Good Car Company works to provide more affordable EVs for people across Australia through community bulk-buys. How? They quality check and purchase low mileage Nissan Leafs from Japan and import them into Australia – cutting costs and overheads through bulk buying.
The ACT actually has the most incentives for buying EVs – they have announced two years’ free registration on all new and second-hand imported EVs and interest-free loans for new EV buyers. They’re also committed to at least 50 charging stations around the region and transitioning the public buses to EVs.
Not a state or territory but a company, Evee deserves a mention here for being Australia’s only car sharing/hire platform that offers rental insurance for EVs. Evee provides EV owners a great way to rent out their vehicles and gives EV access to more Australians – a win-win!
Whilst more needs to be done to increase EV uptake in Australia, it is encouraging to see States, Territories and businesses pushing for more EVs. Let’s continue pushing for our very own EVolution.
By Rebecca Arandall