Solar Citizens calls for more electric utes to help regional Australia

Solar Citizens electric ute


Renewable energy advocacy group Solar Citizens says Australia needs to do more to electrify transportation outside of cities and highways, with a push to support electric utes and EVs generally in regional and rural areas.

The solar group has been on a six-month long road show with an LDV eT60, the first electric ute in the country, demonstrating the possibilities even for longer-distance-on-average trips in regional and rural areas, where EV chargers and general infrastructure are less readily available.

To coincide with the finish line, the solar group published a report titled Five Recommendations for Accelerating Clean Transport in Regional Australia, seeks policy changes to accelerate a shift to EVs in regions, which include implementing a mandatory Fuel Efficiency Standard to open EVs more widely, adding charging infrastructure and prioritising regional towns with any roll-out, implementing solar-shaded roofs in carparks and on charging stations, and removing barriers to vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology – including vehicle-to-grid (V2G).

“We’ve found it is absolutely possible to drive over 10,000km around regional Australia in an electric vehicle, even one with a lower range than some,” said the group’s clean transport campaigner, Ben Lever, a Ballarat local, who ran the roadshow as it came to an end in Sydney, after trips throughout regional Victoria, NSW, and the ACT.

“Perceptions that electric vehicles aren’t suitable for the regions has been busted by what we’ve done.”

Next moves

The federal government has committed to introducing a fuel efficiency standard in Australia, catching up to more progressive policies elsewhere in the world. Draft legislation should be ready before the end of the year. At this stage, with just one electric ute currently available, some xix or more EV utes are planned to arrive in the country by 2025, from Ford, Kia, GWM and Fisker. But a stronger appetite from regional Australia for low emissions transport would flow from policy changes and more public vehicle charging.

“Regional Australians not only drive longer distances but pay more at the petrol pump so it’s a double whammy for them and going electric will benefit them even more than city people,” said Lever.

Solar Citizens estimates that could see $11 billion savings Australia-wide in the first five years, with $4 billion of this in regional areas.

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