Australia is lagging behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). Cars contribute to 8% of Australian greenhouse gas emissions, with 75% of that contribution coming from urban travel. As cities and regional centres swell in population, emissions are expected to increase.
But emission growth is not inevitable due to the barriers to EVs being overcome through public-private partnerships. The Australian landscape has led consumers to create a psychological barrier to entry by constructing the misnomer of EVs range inadequacies. Yet a report released by Beyond Zero Emissions this year, has quantitatively found the Australia population is largely urbanised with the typical urban Australian driving 35 km daily, with 50% of trips being less than 5km. This barrier to entry thus requires raising awareness across the market to assure consumers that there is reliability in this alternative transport option. This barrier can also be alleviated by the investment in EV public charging infrastructure.
Western Australia developed the first Electric Highway in Australia known as the RAC Electric Highway in the South-West of the state. The Queensland Government developed the EV Roadmap for QLD Report in 2010 and is anticipated to release a comprehensive report about EVs place in the state’s transport mix in 2017. The planned Queensland Electric Super Highway is 1600 km of charging stations between Gold Coast to Cairns with the intention of enhancing the viability of EVs along the route for both locals and tourists. The increased availability of charging infrastructure hopes to overcome the most pervasive restriction on EV uptake: range anxiety.
The project is a government led initiative with a public-private collaboration between the Queensland state government and Energy Queensland as well as local governments. The project will be rolled out in stages initially across the Bruce Highway. Points between these stations will then be gradually infilled creating more frequent charging intervals on east coast by 2020 and later along inland routes. Destination charging stations in hotels, shopping centres and public carparks will also be rolled out across the seaboard of the state. Local Planning Energy is also moving into the EV charging space in Queensland, offering strata title communities charging options for as low as $5.50-6.50 for complete charge in urban areas.
Currently there exists a differential in upfront costs between EVs and traditional fuel cars, with the latter being cheaper in initial cost. The Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (Cth) currently places limitations on parallel imports impacting on the access and availability of models from overseas markets. The EVs industry would benefit from abolishing this restriction as this would facilitate an increase in access to EVs from right-hand drive counties with more access to variable models at lower and more affordable costs. Traditional vehicles will be increasingly perceived as less cost-effective, even in the absence of incentive of price-offset schemes for EVs. This is because traditional vehicles require ongoing maintenance and servicing, oil refinery establishment and operation costs, as well as forcing consumers to be vulnerable to the volatile cost of petrol.
Like renewable power, battery capacities and other disruptive technologies decreased stigmatisation through consumer awareness leads to great opportunities. Australia is increasingly demonstrating a transport transition is coming with the increased public and private commitment to the industry, investment in public EV charging infrastructure and the expectation of cheaper EVs expected to be available in Australia as early as next year.
This information was sourced from Beyond Zero Emissions podcast on Electric Vehicles The Future of Transport that was published by Radio 3CR 855AM on 28.11.2016.
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