Senate committee calls for national electric vehicle strategy

Senate Committee Report Electric vehicle EV

Australian Governments should prioritise the development of a national electric vehicle (EV) strategy and an inter-governmental taskforce to lead its implementation, according to a report published by the Select Committee on Electric Vehicles.

In the report, the Committee proposed 17 recommendations aimed at helping Australia accelerate EV uptake, while also managing the risks posed by the burgeoning technology.

Its ultimate intention is to support Australian industry to capitalise on the significant opportunities presented by a transition to EVs.

The Senate established the Committee on 27 June 2018 to inquire into the use and manufacture of electric vehicles in Australia.

The Committee found that electric vehicles are at the forefront of a major transformation of the world’s transport sector, with global EV sales growing rapidly.

Vehicle manufacturers leading the transition, investing heavily to expand their EV offerings and improve EV driving range and performance. The technological disruption is also providing opportunities for new business models and companies to emerge.

The Committee argued, however, that EV uptake in Australia lags behind that of other comparable countries due to a relative absence of overarching policy direction from Australian Governments.

It identified the higher upfront cost of EVs, concerns about driving range, lack of recharging infrastructure, and limited model availability as key factors hindering consumer uptake.

In the Committee’s view, widespread use of EVs in the Australian transportation fleet would deliver significant economic, environmental and health benefits to Australian consumers and society. It would also create new opportunities for Australian industry.

Whilst there are challenges associated with increasing EV uptake, the Committee maintains that they could be managed with well calibrated regulatory settings.

Traditional automotive businesses are already pursuing opportunities in EV component manufacturing and assembly.

New industries, such as charging infrastructure manufacturing and installation, battery manufacturing, recycling, repurposing and related mining and processing activities, and EV research and development are also emerging as growth sectors for the Australian economy.

The Committee called for national EV sales targets be set to deliver certainty to business and consumers, and for careful examination to be given to policies aimed at reducing the upfront cost of EVs and improve their price competitiveness with internal combustion engine vehicles.

The Committee also recommended the Federal Government set EV targets for the Australian Government Fleet and work with state and local government to coordinate fleet procurement.

Additionally, it suggested that the Federal Government partner with business to manage and facilitate the roll out of charging infrastructure, establish consistent national standards, and ensure new developments and the electricity grid are ‘EV charger ready’.

The Senate Committee report predicted that in the absence of appropriate regulatory settings, Australia’s near term EV uptake is likely to be modest. Slow uptake will continue to result in EV manufacturers not prioritising the Australian market and fewer EV models being available to Australian motorists.

The Committee maintained that its recommendations would help Australia realise the substantial economic, environmental and health benefits of electric vehicle technology, and capitalise on opportunities for economic development.

View the Electric Vehicle Report here.

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