New national body to drive uptake of electric vehicles

A new national body to drive uptake of electric vehicles in Australia was officially launched in Canberra this week.

The Electric Vehicle Council is an industry-led organisation representing and coordinating the broader electric vehicle industry in Australia.

Representing companies involved in providing, powering and supporting electric vehicles, its members sell more than 350,000 new vehicles per year in Australia, and have over six million Australian customers.

ARENA will provide a $390,000 grant to ClimateWorks to support the initiative.

Minister for Energy and Environment Josh Frydenberg attended the launch and said increasing the uptake of electric and lower emissions vehicles was an important part of the government’s broader strategy to reduce emissions.

“Passenger vehicles account for around 10 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions which means if we can reduce emissions in this area, it can help us meet our targets under the Paris Agreement,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“The uptake rate of electric vehicles in Australia is around 0.1 per cent of new vehicle sales and is projected to increase to 0.3 per cent by 2020 and 15 per cent by 2030 as electric vehicles become more price competitive.

“This would result in more than 12,000 electric vehicles registered in Australia by 2020, and around one million by 2030.”

Electric Vehicle Council chair Behyad Jafari said the market for electric vehicles included significant opportunities to deliver economic investment, innovation and environmental sustainability.

“While the global industry grows exponentially each year, Australia continues to miss out,” he said.

“In the next twelve months, almost one million electric vehicles are projected to be sold, with more than $50 billion invested in the industry over the last 10 years.

“Addressing the barriers preventing the mass uptake of electric vehicles in Australia requires a consistent and collaborative effort across a range of sectors.

“In addition to introducing vehicle emission standards, key policy measures include incentivising electric vehicle purchase in the short term as the technology works to meet price parity through upfront incentives and taxation measures, as well as establishing a recommended roadmap for national public charging infrastructure.”

ClimateWorks Australia head of implementation Scott Ferraro said the funding from ARENA would support a broader effort to educate and engage Australians about electric vehicles.

“Globally, the number of electric vehicles sold annually is growing rapidly. However in 2014, electric vehicle sales accounted for just 0.1 per cent of new cars sold in Australia,” he said.

“This funding will enable us to work with the Electric Vehicle Council to provide more information about electric vehicles to Australian consumers and undertake research on the best policies to drive greater uptake of electric vehicles, particularly at the early stages in order to increase model choice and infrastructure.”

Mr Ferraro said electric vehicles provide a significant range of environment, economic and social benefits.

“When powered by renewable energy, electric vehicles are zero emission vehicles. This will help us meet our emission reduction targets faster and at lower cost, and can reduce impacts from air pollution in our cities,” he said.

At the launch, AGL Energy announced it would commit to purchase 36 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles to help meet the company’s goal of 10 per cent of its business car fleet being electric by mid-2018.

“We are committed to leading the development of distributed energy technologies and are on our way to operating the largest fleet of plug-in vehicles of any Australian business,” Mr Vesey said.

“We encourage Australian governments and companies to meet or better our EV uptake commitment.

“If other Australian fleet operators, including government, adopted a 10 per cent target it would result in more than 43,000 EV sales per year and reduce up to 85,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.”

Last year, AGL introduced the Electric Car Plan which included $1 a day unlimited home charging of electric vehicles to AGL customers, providing them certainty on the low costs of EV operation.