Back in June 2018, the Australian Senate established an enquiry into Electric Vehicles and if Australia is getting it right. After many many months, the findings are in and the 197 page report, released today, features 17 recommendations for how we can do things better.
We know you love the detail and in this discussion, detail absolutely matters, so I’ve included all 17 recommendations below. The executive summary basically boils down to this.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of the world’s transport sector. EV sales are growing rapidly internationally, driven by government policy in large consumer markets in Europe, Asia and North America. Manufacturers are investing heavily to expand their EV offerings and improve EV driving range and performance. As the technology improves, it opens the door for different business models and companies to emerge, offering consumers a range of options and the ability to rethink what car ownership means as many EVs also offer autonomous features.
When it comes to EV uptake in Australia, the report found we lag behind other comparable countries. This is pretty sad considering Australia has a great reputation as early adopters of new technology, often the reason our relatively small population is interesting to global companies at all.
The inquiry highlighted that a lack of overarching policy direction from the Australian Government (e.g. charging infrastructure), that consumers are paying higher upfront cost for EVs. With such a large country, consumer concerns about range, lack of recharging infrastructure, and limited model availability are key factors hindering consumer uptake.
I will say there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the model availability, Australia continues to see an increase in EV nameplates year on year, as for the charging infrastructure, yep, it’s a complete mess and when company’s like Tesla have to roll their own charging networks, they naturally are passing on the cost of that to customers in the form of an increased purchase price.
In the Committee’s view, widespread use of EVs in the Australian transportation fleet would deliver significant economic, environmental and health benefits to Australian consumers and society. Translation: Don’t be surprised to see many of the trucks and vans replaced by EVs in the coming years. There would be challenges associated with increasing EV uptake, but they can be managed with well calibrated regulatory settings.
The Committee received that traditional automotive businesses are already pursuing opportunities in EV component manufacturing and assembly.
New industries, such as charging infrastructure manufacturing and installation, battery manufacturing, recycling, repurposing and related mining and processing activities, and EV research and development are also emerging as growth sectors for the Australian economy.
The Committee received 137 submissions from auto companies like SAE Electric, Nissan Motor Co, Toyota, Volvo, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and Tesla. They also heard submissions from electric companies Like TransGrid, AusNet Services, Origin and AGL Energy. One of the more interesting suggestions was that AGL should offer a flat rate recharge fee for commercial EVs, e.g. $5per day, much like the A$1 per day consumer plan.
The Committee’s 17 recommendations aim to help Australia accelerate EV uptake, while also managing the risks, and support Australian industry to capitalise on the significant opportunities presented by a transition to EVs.
It has been suggested (strongly advised) that the Australian Government (whoever wins this year’s election), should prioritise the development of a national EV strategy and an inter-governmental taskforce to lead its implementation. The goal of this taskforce would be to set National EV sales targets could be set to deliver certainty to business and consumers, and careful examination should be given to policies that may be introduced to reduce the upfront cost of EVs and improve their price competitiveness with internal combustion engine vehicles.
It also raises the issue (read: suggestion) that the Government should set EV targets for the Australian Government fleets, both Federal and State. This is both good and bad. It’d mean Government spending on fleet vehicles in the short term would increase, but the upside is that it would help increase the number of people exposed to EVs who would then go on to consider buying one for their family.
One of my favourites is the recommendation that the Government should partner with business to manage and facilitate the roll out of charging infrastructure, establish consistent national standards, and ensure new developments and the electricity grid are ‘EV charger ready’. This needs ot happen yesterday. The question is, what happens to the return on investment for those businesses who have already created recharging networks.
Left to its own devices, we’re potentially looking at a slow uptake of EVs in Australia. The committee found that this would result in EV manufacturers not prioritising the Australian market and fewer EV models being available to Australian motorists (bad for you and me).
Now for the 17 recommendations. These are generally really positive and I am 100% behind recommendation 8 to bring a Formula E race to Australia.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop a national EV strategy to facilitate and accelerate EV uptake and ensure Australia takes advantage of the opportunities, and manages the risks and challenges, of the transition to EVs.
Addressing these risks and challenges will require effective national standards and regulation in regards to charging infrastructure and electricity grid integration, building and construction, public safety, consumer protection, processes for disposal and/or re-use of batteries, and skills training.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government should take a national leadership position in establishing an inter-governmental taskforce to lead the development and implementation of a national EV strategy.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government consider establishing national EV targets for light passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles and metropolitan buses.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government consider establishing a national EV target for the Government fleet.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government coordinate with operators in the charging infrastructure industry to develop a comprehensive plan for the rollout of a national public charging network.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government introduce more stringent vehicle emissions standards, and establish a new CO2 standard, informed by those implemented in other developed countries and the findings of the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions.
The Committee recommends that any national strategy by the Australian Government should develop a consumer education campaign to raise awareness of the capabilities and benefits of EVs.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work with the state and territory governments to bring a Formula-E Championship race to Australia.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop and implement a comprehensive 10-year EV manufacturing roadmap, also covering research and development, vehicle and system design and manufacture batteries, telematics, supply chain and component manufacturing.
The Committee recommends the Australian Government coordinate federal, state and local government EV fleet, truck and electric bus procurement through the inter-governmental EV taskforce (Recommendation 2).
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government works with state and territory governments through the COAG Industry and Skills Council to establish national training arrangements for automotive service technicians in relation to electric vehicles.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, in conjunction with industry stakeholders, fund apprenticeships and traineeships in the local EV and associated manufacturing sector.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work closely with electricity market agencies, states and other relevant stakeholders to prepare a 10-year plan detailing priority electricity network infrastructure upgrades needed to manage demand from EVs.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to:
- Expedite the establishment of a register of distributed energy resources (DER);
- Develop a strategy for AEMO to access and direct the DER to charge or provide electricity to the grid to meet operational requirements.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work with state and territory governments, through COAG and the Building Ministers Forum, to explore necessary amendments to the National Construction Code to render all new dwellings ‘electric vehicle charger ready’.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work with Standards Australia to amend AS/NZS3000:2018 Electrical installations: Wiring Rules to the following effect:
Where a smart load management system is not implemented, assume all the electric vehicle chargers will be running at full capacity all the time. Where a smart load management system is implemented, assume electric vehicle charging load will be effectively limited by the parameters of this system.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government work closely with Standards Australia to establish a series of national standards in relation to EVs.
With Australia’s lack of an EV target, we lack considerably behind other countries across the globe. Some countries such as the UK and France have set a target of 100 per cent of new car purchases being EV by 2040, whilst others like the Netherlands and Norway aim to achieve the same target by 2025.
The most recent data shows that of the 17 million light passenger vehicles in Australia, only 7,300 of these are BEVs and PHEVs. From just over a million cars purchased in 2017, around 2,300 were EVs, which accounts for only about 0.2% market share.
20 / 24 EV models available, are priced at more than $60,000, placing them in the luxury vehicle category. The cheapest electric vehicle currently available in Australia is the Renault Zoe priced at around $50,000.
Yep, we’ve got some work to do Australians.
One positive is that the Australian Government currently offers a discount on the Luxury Car Tax (LCT) for fuel efficient vehicles (a fuel consumption that does not exceed 7L/100km), such as electric vehicles. The 2017-18 threshold for fuel efficient vehicles of $75,526 is $10,432 higher than for other vehicles. At an LCT rate of 33%, this effectively translates to a tax saving of up to $3,442.
You can read the full report for yourself right here.