Electric Vehicle Council Executive Director (EVC) Behyad Jafari and the principal clean energy transition advisor for Ernst and Young, Matt Rennie urged Australia to follow the UK, which last week announced that it will endorse the ban on selling new gasoline and diesel cars from 2040 to 2035, and add hybrids to the blacklist.
According to The Driven, EVC on Thursday released new data that suggests that sales of electric vehicles tripled from 2216 in 2018 to 6718 in 2019 (including hybrids).
The jump was mainly caused by Tesla, who accounted for 70 percent of EV sales, mainly due to Model 3.
Australia is showing signs of a shift to green vehicles, and an increasing number of customers are claiming that their next purchase will be an electric vehicle. But there is also a political vacuum in the country and a lack of affordable models.
EVC says that if the political vacuum is not eliminated in the near future, Australia will lag even further behind the global shift to clean transport because automakers will hinder the launch of more affordable electric vehicles, says Jafari.
“The bad news is that even with this strong growth, EVs still one represent 0.6% of sales. That compares poorly to 3.8% of sales in Europe and 4.7%of sales in China,” he told The Driven.
“If the Australian EV market had the same incentives and support as the EU and China, we would be talking about some 50,000 new EVs on our roads."
“That would actually start delivering significant benefit in terms of cleaning our air, lowering our carbon emissions, and lowering our dependence on foreign oil.”
The Morrison government, which attacked a 50 percent share of new car sales for electric cars proposed by Labor by 2030 ahead of the last election, should present its EV strategy later this year.
So far, it has resisted calls for EV incentives. The main body of the automotive industry, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, stated that any such initiatives should include support for efficient gasoline and diesel vehicles.
“The automotive industry has achieved significant gains in the increased efficiency of internal combustion petrol and diesel engines and they will continue to play a significant role for many years to come,” the FCAI said in a statement.
However, Jafari and Rennie talked about the additional social benefits of electric vehicles, such as improved air quality and related health benefits, as well as reduced carbon emissions.
“But what we keep seeing is car companies saying, ‘We’re not going to bring the products here because there isn’t the appetite’,” Jafari said, citing the example of South Korean car maker Kia.
“It’s something that has happened to Australia several times over these past few years .... for a car maker to bring an EV here is an investment decision."
“The interesting thing about customers is they make rational choices all the time...,” says Rennie. “Prior to the iPhone none of us could have imagined we could have all that in one device.”
“Once we reach cost parity, people will make the decision to buy electric vehicles. All of the evidence suggest those things are being solved.”
In addition to introducing policy to encourage car makers to bring more electric vehicles to market, there also needs to be more funding to ensure regional areas have adequate electric car chargers.
EV Infrastructure in Australia
“Certainly with charging infrastructure there is some movement, thanks to ARENA which has been able to fund some of those programs,” says Jafari.
According to Rennie, Australia is already at the forefront of other environmentally friendly technologies, such as solar panels and batteries.
“One in four homes have solar,” Rennie tells The Driven. “We are seen on the world stage as testbed for new technologies - we think Australia should be first cab off the rank for the energy transition.”
Renny is sure that electric cars will surely become as popular in Australia as smartphones or laptops.
“In 2021 we think using solar and batteries will reach the same price as getting electricity off the grid,” Rennie says.
“We are the first to reach that tipping point as we have a high penetration of solar. That’s why Tesla is starting to focus on Australia, because we’ll be the first to reach this tipping point.
“In 2025 we think electric vehicles will reach cost parity with combustion engine vehicles, and in 2042 we think it will be cheaper to generate electricity from solar and batteries on your house than the cost of just getting electric to your house through poles and wires.
Jafari says an accelerated ban in the UK will allow automakers to be confident that they will bring more electric cars, and this will stimulate the British economy.
“UK consumers will have access to the latest and most affordable EV models, and charging infrastructure will proliferate. If we embarked on similar policies the same thing would happen here, ”he said in a note.
“We have to decide what this means for Australia, which is to start at the beginning,” said Jafari.
Featured image: Tesmanian