CEFC CEO Ian Learmouth test drives an EV
CEFC CEO Ian Learmouth test drives an EV. Supplied

Nearly half of Australian fleet managers would consider incorporating electric vehicles in their fleet, a survey conducted by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has shown.

Of those, 40 per cent of Australian fleet buyer will turn to EVs within the next three months(!!!), and 50 per cent within the next two years.

Reductions in fuel and maintenance costs, as well as vehicle emissions, were given as the main reasons for switching to EV, according to those surveyed at the recent EV Drive Day held at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

After test driving an electric vehicle, the number of fleet managers and buyers likely to consider EVs rose to 82 per cent.

Barriers to making the EV plunge were, unsurprisingly, identified as higher upfront costs of electric vehicles, access to charging infrastructure, and also uncertain resale value.

Over 40 businesses and a total of 60 fleet managers and buyers were surveyed by the CEFC, almost half of which have over 250 vehicles in their fleets.

With 19,000 Australian fleets comprised of over 20 vehicles or more equaling an estimated 2.1 million vehicles (over 10 per cent of the nation’s vehicles in total, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics), the figures are significant.

“Electric vehicles offer an exciting opportunity to tackle our greenhouse gas emissions, from family cars through to light commercial vehicles and heavy-duty trucks,” says CEFC chief Ian Learmouth.

“We see fleet buyers and managers as having a critical role to play in accelerating the switch to electric vehicles.

They have strong purchasing power, which can help drive down costs. With their focus on operational efficiency and cost, they can also help demonstrate the benefits of electric vehicles compared with diesel and petrol-powered engines,” he says.

Australasian Fleet Management Association boss Mace Hartley said, “Another very important development in this market is the increasing range of commercial vehicles now available, from smaller-scale buses and vans to heavy duty trucks and electric garbage trucks.

“We’re also seeing increasingly advanced technology and safety features that have important benefits to fleet buyers, alongside the benefits of cutting vehicle emissions.”

Source: CEFC
Source: CEFC

While the survey was taken by a limited number of representatives of the Australian fleet industry, Learmouth says it should not be ignored.

“Our survey provides a small but important snapshot of buyer intentions, ” he says.

“Our goal is to see this extended right across the fleet sector and beyond, as owners and drivers become more familiar with the potential of electric vehicles. While Australians have traditionally been early adopters of new technology, we’re lagging when it comes to EVs, and we’re working hard to change that.”

With the announcement last week that the La Trobe Valley would become the centre of a “massive” new EV plant making 2,400 electric delivery vans and minibuses by Aussie company SEA Electric, that goal is one step closer.

The CEFC has identified that in Australia, transport accounts for almost 20 per cent of Australia’s GHG emissions per year – an astonishing 100 million tonnes that could be removed each year just by switching to EVs.

Australian businesses and individuals are being supported by $43 million funding from the CEFC to assist in the purchase of all-electric and PHEV vehicles, through co-financing opportunities that can be accessed through a number of flexible finance options.

However with 90% of vehicles on Australian roads expected to be electric by 2050, according to CEFC/ARENA modelling, and charging infrastructure requiring $1.7 million in private investment if the switch to electric mobility is to happen with any degree of success, much more needs to be done.

Energy specialist Energeia agrees: for Australians to make the switch to EV, it says that measures such as upfront incentives, government fleet purchases and changes to vehicle emissions and import regulations should be put in place.

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