A global study from L.E.K Consulting, Vision Mobility and CuriosityCX released this week found that Australian interest in electric vehicles (EVs) is well below the global average.
According to the study, only a minority of Australians have adopted EVs or hybrid vehicles, with just 3% of respondents claiming ownership of either type. Moreover, interest in EVs is not exactly encouraging either, with only 34% of Australians interested or very interested in transitioning to EVs. The global average is closer to 50%.
Australian respondents cited cost, range anxiety and lack of charging options as the three major impediments to EV adoption.
The study’s finding is not exactly a great surprise. Due to its enormity and isolation, Australia is always slow to change but change inevitably becomes it, and EVs will prove no different.
“Australia’s wide expanse makes it hard for drivers to contemplate being stuck without a place to charge. The distance between major cities adds anxiety about the capability of EVs to make it from A to B, despite an uptick in publicly available infrastructure,” said Mark Streeting, Partner L.E.K Consulting. “However, the major impediment according to this study remains the cost, with the lowest-price EV on the market, the Hyundai loniq, coming in at around $45,000. And with no resale market yet established, Internal Combustion Engines remain the go-to choice for new or used vehicle purchases.”
“But as batteries become more efficient to produce, these costs should come down,” noted Streeting. “Publicly-available infrastructure continues to be deployed along major routes in Australia through operators such as Evie Networks, Chargefox and the NRMA.”
Over the last year, significant inroads into the EV transition in Australia have been made. Electricity retailers such as Powershop are beginning to encourage the uptake of EVs with the introduction of “Super Off-Peak Tariffs” as a way for EV owners with smart meters to charge their vehicles at a reduced rate.
The belated but ultimately successful arrival of Tesla’s Model 3 brought all the attention that a Tesla launch usually provides, ensuring another boost to the acceleration of the EV industry in Australia.
When it comes to the charging networks, there is also encouraging progress. In August, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced it will top up Evie Networks ultra-fast battery electric vehicle charging network throughout Australia’s highways with $15 million in federal funding.
The charging networks, led largely by Evie Networks and Chargefox, are on the frontlines of that major impediment to Australian progress, range-anxiety. Evie Networks’ CEO Chris Mills estimates that Australia needs around 350 charging sites to cover all the highways that make up Australia’s National Land Transportation Network.
Even the Northern Territory (NT), one of the Australian states or territories with the most rational anxiety about range, is looking to make concerted moves toward an EV transition after releasing a discussion paper in October as it begins the process of setting out a coherent EV integration strategy.
Nevertheless, there is a lot more that can be done to aid the transition, especially in the private sector. “To further accelerate the adoption of EVs in Australia and globally,” argues Streeting, “car manufacturers must put greater emphasis on bringing down the cost of vehicles and improving battery mileage. They also need to work more intently with governments and the broader industry to improve charging infrastructure.”
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