Australian property landlords are part of the rush to install charging stations for electric vehicles but according to a coalition of related industries, a lot more needs to be done to ensure EVs can meet their potential to help reduce emissions by nearly half by 2050.

EV infrastructure in general is already taking shape around Australia with a Sydney to Melbourne link complete with Tesla superchargers operating in Goulburn, NSW, and Wodonga and Euroa, Victoria.

If you are a Tesla owner the recharge points are free to use, with a charge of just 30 minutes providing up to 270 kilometres of battery range. “Filling the tank” takes an hour.

In Western Australia the RAC co-funded a network of 12 EV fast-charging stations along a 310 kilometres highway stretch connecting Perth to Augusta. Local firm E-Station supplied the charging technology.

Brisbane-based EV infrastructure company Tritium is working with industry and the Queensland government on the Fast Cities Network to install 12 of its Veefil fast chargers along 430km of highway between Noosa and Byron Bay and Brisbane to Toowoomba. So far, one charging station is operating in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

According to myelectriccar.com.au, charging an EV in Australia costs approximately $4.50 per 100km. In comparison, an unleaded petrol car costs $16.65 and efficient diesel vehicle costs $7.50.

Free and user-pay charging stations are popping up at various hotels and shopping centres such as Park Hyatt Sydney, Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach, Westfield Chatswood and Westfield Bondi Junction. Victorian motorists can charge up at Chadstone Shopping Centre and the Marriott and Sofitel hotels. While in WA, shoppers at Garden City in Bangaroon can also park and charge.

Stockland has introduced charging stations at several of its shopping centres such as Balgowlah, Cammeray, Baulkham Hills and Glendale in NSW, Point Cook in Victoria, Baldivis in WA and Burleigh Heads in Queensland.

According to Stockland regional retail manager Craig Piper, charging stations are soon to be installed at shopping centres at Shellharbour and Jesmond in NSW and the number of charging stations at other shopping centres is likely to expand.

However, a coalition of industry representatives has warned the federal government industry incentives and infrastructure are desperately needed to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles if Australia is to have any chance of meeting its emissions target.

The broad coalition of representatives from Australia’s emerging electric vehicle market this week released the The Path Forward for Electric Vehicles in Australia report and is calling on the government to support a nationally coordinated approach to support the move from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles.

The report shows that EVs can reduce CO2 from vehicles by up to 47 per cent by 2050.

The coalition, which includes representatives from companies such as AGL Energy, Tesla Motors, small businesses and not-for-profits, challenged the government to introduce infrastructure, incentives and regulation to ensure the growing consumer uptake of EVs helps to meet Australia’s climate, energy productivity and air-quality goals.

Proposed incentives include:

  • upfront payments and tax incentives for the purchase of EVs
  • registration waivers for EVs
  • priority EV traffic lanes
  • priority EV parking

The submission also calls for better infrastructure such as:

  • building charging stations
  • plug harmonisation for all EVs
  • the development of a national EV roadmap to plan for a greater roll out of EVs

Incentives drive momentum

The group’s report comes in response to the government’s Vehicle Emissions Discussion Paper, which aims to develop strategies to meet Australia’s greenhouse gas emission reduction obligations. The report demonstrates that the cost of consumer EVs could be slashed by more than $8000 through targeted incentives such as Fringe Benefit Tax exemptions.

International evidence shows Australia lags behind other major OECD countries in uptake of EVs. Less than 0.09 per cent of new vehicles sold here are EVs. The US, Japan, China and various European countries offer incentives to consumers that are not available in Australia.

The Netherlands offers the highest level of EV incentive through stamp duty exemptions. Norway grants a full exemption from the 25 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT), while China offers direct vehicle subsidies of US$12,000 (AU$15,771) for battery electric and plug-in hybrid EVs.

Greg Garvin

Greg Garvin

Coalition partner TransGrid executive general manager Greg Garvin said supporting the early adoption of electric vehicles was a smart way to achieve economic growth in a low carbon future.

“Combined with support for the increasing role of renewable energy, electric vehicles play an important role in realising economic benefits from new energy technologies.”

Australia’s transport sector is rated as one of the worst among developed nations in terms of emissions intensity. The sector produces 17 per cent of the nation’s carbon emissions, with emissions due to rise by six per cent to 2020.

EVs the solar panels of the automotive industry

Moving industries from alternative fuel sources to electricity, also known as “electrification”, is a key recommendation of the ClimateWorks Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation by 2050, developed to help Australia reach net zero carbon emissions while maintaining a steady rate of GDP growth.

ClimateWorks chief executive Anna Skarbek said there was significant opportunity to reduce emissions for the transport sector in Australia.

“Electric vehicles are the solar panels of the automotive industry,” she said. “With the right support, we could see a rapid uptake that would have positive outcomes for our health, the economy and for consumers.”

The report notes that there has been some EV policy activity at a state and local government level, however it concludes that overall policy has been limited to modest registration discounts and partial support for public charging.

Queensland has shown the most promise with charging infrastructure support, registration incentives, stamp duty discounts, discounted parking and free charging.

Last year the government called for expressions of interest to develop Australia’s first EV service station in Townsville. As an incentive, Economic Development Queensland offered support for charger equipment leasing and Ergon Energy offered the opportunity to lease 25kW of solar panels. NSW, Victoria and South Australia have made some inroads.

Thinking with our fleets

Australian fleet purchasing policies also need to evolve to include EVs. City of Sydney’s passenger fleet has almost entirely been replaced with EVs, which, along with lower carbon emissions, offer lower running costs as well as less pollution and noise.

Coalition partner AGL chief executive and managing director Andy Vesey said the company had committed to replacing at least 10 per cent of its fleet with EVs within two years.

“Electric vehicles will help the Commonwealth Government achieve its two degrees target,” Mr Vesey said. He indicated that the number of EV vehicles in the AGL fleet could grow as more EV options became available in Australia.

The next steps for the coalition include a demonstration project to explore consumer needs when purchasing, driving and charging EVs, plus consultation with manufacturers to deliver more model choice to the Australian market.