The era of the electric vehicle is approaching and the Commonwealth needs the right policies and infrastructure in place, experts say.
A parliamentary inquiry into electric vehicles has heard that electric vehicles will likely be cheaper in Australia than internal combustion engine cars by as soon as 2024.
The falling cost of electric vehicles will drive significant uptake of the vehicles in the near future, according to Ali Asghar, senior associate of power, energy storage and electric vehicles at Bloomberg.
“The cost is falling fast,” Mr Asghar told the inquiry. “Electric vehicles are likely to become cheaper than internal combustion engine cars as soon as 2024. This is mainly a result of cost declines in the major cost component in electric vehicles: batteries.”
Australia’s uptake of electric vehicles to date has been “sluggish” compared to the rest of the world, he said.
“In Australia, the major reasons [for poor uptake] are the cost of electric vehicles, lack of policy measures and then lack of model availability. The lack of model availability is tied to policy measures, because car manufacturers won’t bring in cars to the market if they don’t think that they will be sold here,” Mr Asghar said.
Policy must support uptake
Tony Fairweather, group manager of SEA Electric, told the inquiry that Australia is in the midst of an “electric vehicle revolution” and said governments needed to act fast.
“There is no point putting our head in the sand… the electric vehicle transition is occurring,” he said.
In his submission Mr Fairweather called on the government to introduce measures – such as subsidies, rebates, a zero stamp duty or registration waver – to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.
Navigating the impacts
Tony Wood, director of the energy program at the Grattan Institute, said the government must ensure the right policies and infrastructure were in place, in areas such as charging infrastructure and the impact on the grid.
The introduction of vehicle emissions standards and a price on carbon would encourage the uptake of zero-emissions vehicles, he said.
Tim Nelson, chief economist at AGL Energy, has said the Commonwealth must consider the need for both state and federal jurisdictions to adequately plan the whereabouts of electronic vehicle charging points.
He told the inquiry:
“Having some adequate planning of where those faster charge, higher load stations might be… having that high-level plan would be very beneficial for how that would be rolled out in the most efficient way, which minimises any risks and costs to participants and consumers.”
The use of time-of-use tariffs to discourage the charging of electric vehicles at peak times could also be useful to help manage any pressure on energy networks, Dr Nelson said.
Andrew Dillon, CEO at Energy Networks Australia, also called for “proper intervention” through time-of-day pricing to prevent issues such as localised outages.
The inquiry’s final report is due in December.
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