Australians bought more than one million new cars in 2018, yet less than one per cent of vehicles on the road were electric. But, that statistic is changing. In a world that is looking for ways to cut carbon emissions, demand for electric vehicles in Australia continues to grow.
It is believed that two thirds of Australians will own an electric car within the next decade, according to A Driving Australia Forward report. The paper funded by Jaguar cites the positive environmental outcomes, such as reduced use of fossil-fuels and increase of environmentally friendly resources, as the main reasons people are looking to go green-er. It claims that 84 per cent of Aussies “would like to own an EV at some point in their life, with millennials believed to be most likely to purchase an EV.
While demand for electric vehicles increases, making our roads greener isn’t as easy as designing and selling cars with different engines. Electric vehicles require different infrastructure to petrol-powered cars, their range differs wildly and they require different charging stations, with different connections and varying amounts of time to recharge before cars can be back on the road.
The challenges facing the EV industry have historically involved the high cost for the development and manufacture of the vehicles (notably the batteries used to power them) as well as the cost to put the charging infrastructure in place. Yet state by state, those stations are now appearing and new and improved batteries are finding their ways into the new models. All of this is making a big difference.
Advancement in technologies and the decrease of costs have resulted in the use of EVs becoming more feasible, more desirable for car owners and this is helping to propel the move towards implementing nation-wide infrastructure to support the wider use of EVs. This move to electric vehicle technology would result in nationally significant fuel and maintenance cost savings as well as environmental benefits.
The Queensland Electric Super Highway is the world's longest electric super highway in a single state, with 31 fast-charging sites, whilst the RAC Electric Highway connects Western Australia. Sydney and Melbourne were the first major cities to be connected by an electric highway and is the most used. As of 2020, more than 60 public electric vehicle charging stations are being built around regional New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland in a bid to make electric cars a more practical option in regional Australia.
But it’s not just the networks that are expanding at a fast rate. Manufacturers are racing to align themselves with the new EV market, producing everything from cheap and cheerful city commuters, to family SUVs and even luxury EVs. Both Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo have announced that by 2020 all new models will be fully electric or hybrid and pioneering manufacturers such as Telsa, Nissan, Renault and BMW have helped lead the R&D charge with the Model 3, Leaf, ZOE and i-series models respectively.
Catering to the luxury end of the market, big brands have unveiled shiny new electric and hybrid alternatives to their famous gas-guzzling models. Porsche have released the Taycan, Mercedes-Benz the EQC and Audi the E-Tron Quattro. Even Aston Martin has dabbled with EVs care of the Rapide E concept car.
Countries themselves are also drawing a line in the sand when it comes to incentivising investment in electric vehicles, which is helping to nudge the more reluctant manufacturers like Ferrari into to adapting in Europe. Britain and France have both announced that from 2040 fossil-fuelled cars will no longer be available for purchase. In Paris, Mexico City and Athens they have stated that they will not allow diesel cars to enter the city from 2025.
The support from local industry and government in Australia is essential to support the future use of Electric Vehicles. We need nationwide infrastructure that provides adequate charging stations, government funding which would allow cities to electrify their bus fleets, and updates to local policies and incentives to encourage others to build charging infrastructure. With these things in place, the world will benefit significantly thanks to reduced transport emissions, with Australian’s experiencing cost savings and environmental benefits across the country.