Alexandra Kelly, Policy Manager, Electric Vehicle Council, discusses what the Federal Government could be doing to encourage the adoption of more EVs.
Transport emissions in Australia currently account for 19 per cent or almost one-fifth of our total greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing them will bring significant economic, environmental, and health benefits to the country.
Yet, as the rest of the world transitions to electric road transport, Australia is still at the back of the pack. With limited policy support, it’s been difficult for the EV industry to get its wheels in motion.
But that’s not to say the industry isn’t trying.
There has been significant growth in vehicle sales and public chargers in the last couple of years – and it’s the EV industry that has really been driving that transition.
But it shouldn’t be. Where government policy around the world has accelerated EV uptake into double digits, the lack of a national strategy in Australia has restricted electrification.
Electric vehicle policy encourages the adoption of electric vehicles through financial incentives, regulatory frameworks, and charging infrastructure investment – the trinity of EV policy.
In Australia, we’re doing pretty well with charging infrastructure but we’re missing the big carrot policy (financial incentives) and the big stick policy (regulation).
And that’s what the Federal Government could be doing to encourage the adoption of more EVs.
When a manufacturer in Australia wants to sell an EV, they have to make the business case to their global head office. This includes informing them of what policies exist to support electrification in the domestic market.
When global head office can see that governments are encouraging adoption from the three key policy drivers, there’s a strong business case. Financial incentives create demand by reducing the purchase price of an EV, regulation ensures supply by forcing manufacturers to supply EVs, and charging infrastructure provides confidence to consumers and the private sector.
And while Australia is doing well on charging infrastructure – with all governments coinvesting in some form of charging network with the private sector – we’re well behind on the other two.
What this means is that we will have a lot of public chargers out there for Australian consumers, but not enough electric vehicles to use them. This will in turn create a challenge for the businesses investing in the charging infrastructure – a three-legged stool with only one good leg doesn’t work very well!
Visibility and accessibility to public charging infrastructure is necessary to provide confidence to consumers that they will be able to charge their cars – alleviating ‘range anxiety’. When a consumer is confident they can charge when and where they need to, that will get them over the line in their purchase decision.
And this is where service stations play a vital role.
We know from international experience that approximately 80 per cent of electric vehicle charging is done at home. But our research shows that fast charging infrastructure is the most important type of public charging for Australian consumers.
The average Australian drives around 38km a day, and the average electric vehicle has a range of 395km. This means that, an EV driver could ‘top up’ their EV at home daily or head to a public charger approximately every nine days for a full recharge.
By offering charging infrastructure, service stations will provide confidence to Australian consumers that they can continue their lives as normal with an electric vehicle.
And the good news for service station owners? There is government funding out there to help with the costs of installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Information on funding available:
NSW has just released guidelines for the first round of $131 million in grant funding for fast charging infrastructure. In Victoria, there are currently funding rounds open for council and business fleets totalling $3 million and last year $5 million in grants was awarded for a fast-charging network across the state. In SA, the government is currently calling for proposals from charge point operators to apply for grant funding to develop sections of the network.