A new research report from Austroads provides guidance for road operators on how to best support the transition to electric vehicles (EVs).

The report draws from the findings of an investigation into road operators and EVs across Australia and New Zealand.

Electric car sales more than tripled in Australia between 2018 and 2019, according to the Electric Vehicle Council, with 6,718 electric cars, including hybrid plug-ins, being sold nationwide last year, up from 2,216 in 2018.

David Green, who authored the report, said the role of road operators regarding EVs currently varies across jurisdictions.

“It can range from a simple ‘hands‑off’ free market approach to establishing incentives to support the transition to EVs,” Mr Green said.

Road operators manage functions such as registration and licensing, road access, road design and maintenance, road operations, road corridor planning, road signage and road operator standards, and work with other agencies and stakeholders to manage impacts on road operations. 

EVs have the potential to impact these areas. In addition, in order to support the transition to EVs, new functions may emerge.

“As a result, we have divided our guidance into core and non-core areas,” Mr Green said. 

“We recommend all road operators adopt the core actions, and then adopt any non-core actions they see as appropriate based on how they see their role in supporting or not constraining the rollout of EVs in their jurisdictions.

“We would particularly urge road operators to work with other stakeholders to develop an electric vehicle charging systems guidance document to encourage safe and efficient charging operations, as infrastructure installed at the roadside could affect other users and roadside furniture, creating safety hazards.”

Other core actions include developing universal standard signage for EV charging stations, sharing data and possibly conducting trials relating to new charging technologies including plug-less systems.

The Federal Government is developing a National Electric Vehicle Strategy for Australia. Australian road managers and other state and territory agencies should consider how best to coordinate their actions with this strategy.

“This report will help road operators clarify their role in supporting the transition to EVs and understand what actions they can take to support this transition,” Mr Green said.

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