Australians across all parties support national EV policy, expect to purchase electric cars, polls shows

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Electric vehicles (EVs), something of a hot potato in the political arena in the run-up to the next month’s federal election, enjoy broad support among Australian voters. And that backing cuts across party lines.

Two-third of Australians expect to purchase an electric car at some stage, according to polling commissioned by the Climate Council. The poll, conducted by YouGov Galaxy, surveyed 861 eligible voters between April 10 and 11.

Some 62% of Australians support a target for EVs, with 44% supporting Labor’s aim for 50% of all new vehicles to be electric by 2030 and 18% believing it should be even more ambitious.

“The results show the Federal Government is out of touch with everyday Australians,” said Climate Councillor and former head of BP Australasia, Greg Bourne. “Australians are keen to be part of the electric revolution with one in six people planning to purchase an electric vehicle next time they buy a car.”

EV price parity

The poll also found that more than a third of respondents liked the convenience of being able to charge their car at home and half would consider buying an EV when they become as cheap as petrol cars.

Analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has suggested that will occur in 2022 as the cost of EVs falls below that of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles due to rapidly falling battery costs. The crossover point continues to move closer, BNEF analysts note. In 2017, it was forecast to occur in 2026, while last year the crossover point was predicted for 2024.

BNEF also suggests batteries will account for only 20% of EV costs by 2025, down from the current 33%. Chassis and body costs are also expected to fall slightly, just as equivalent costs rise modestly for conventional cars in a bid to comply with emissions targets.

Transport contributes almost 20% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions amid a lack of any federal or state government limits. The Climate Council poll found that two-thirds of Australians believe EVs reduce pollution and are beneficial for people’s health and for the environment. This included 62% of people who identified as Coalition voters.

According to a recent report released by Melbourne-based Evenergi, more EVs could not only contribute to cleaner transportation, but also improve grid stability if managed properly. While this will require appropriate management of load and therefore consciously crafted network architecture – with the ability for demand side control, evening out demand would unlock more value from existing power network assets, ultimately leading to lower costs for consumers, according to the report, which was funded by the ARENA and the South Australian government.

Out of touch

Half of Australians support shifting all sales of new vehicles to electric by 2025 and building charging stations, according to a research by The Australia Institute (TAI) Climate & Energy Program. The institute surveyed 1,536 Australians about their attitudes towards EVs between 20 February and 4 March.

Support of such policy exceeded opposition among voters of all political parties and is similar across Australia at 52% for Victoria and Western Australia, 49% in Queensland and 48% in NSW, the findings show. Three in 10 Australians (28%) oppose the proposal, TAI finds.

The poll also showed that a majority of voters (62%) support a government EV program to switch to an electrically charged transport system, including 55% Coalition voters, 71% Labor voters, 78% Greens voters, and 54% ‘other’ voters.

While only 16% of respondents opposed a national program to switch to an electrically charged transport system, support for the transition was similar across Australia, with Western Australia (68%) and Queensland (62%) leading the way.

Follow Nordic lead

“Australians already have a strong appetite for electric vehicles, with 50% interested in purchasing an electric vehicle by 2025 – a full five years earlier than Labor’s EV Target and significantly faster than the Government’s strategy” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute.

Noting these EV ownership targets only seem out of reach because Australia is so far behind on EV policy and infrastructure, Merzian says Australia should emulate Nordic countries, which have led the world in driving EV uptake through policy instruments, including purchase incentives, use incentives and access incentives that could be easily replicated.

The Coalition government has laid harsh criticism against Labor’s national EV target of half of new sales by 2030 , even though its own emissions reduction policy assumes a similar result. Analysis by the Department of the Environment and Energy suggested EVs could comprise between 25 and 50% of new car sales by 2030 under the Coalition’s strategy. However, Energy Minister Angus Taylor has insisted Labor’s policy, which assumes a new pollution regulation of 105g CO2/km for light vehicles, was unsound despite the government’s policy potentially having the same outcome.