renault zoe plugged in
Credit: Bridie Schmidt

(Update: See story on the result of the Senate EV inquiry, and the Coalition and Labor move to reject specific targets and incentives).

A new poll released on Wednesday – ahead of a Senate report on the future of electric vehicles – shows most Australians want to see a transition to a clean transport future of EVS, and they support policies and incentives that will accelerate that transition.

The need for a transition to electric vehicles, and a clean electricity grid, in order to de-carbonise the energy and transport sectors has been underlined by the recent IPCC report on climate change, and the record heat-waves being experienced in Australia.

The poll released today by The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program proves that beyond doubt, Australians support policies that could accelerate the uptake of EVs.

The key findings reported by the poll include:

  • 79% support for the government building a network of charging stations across the country for electric vehicles.
  • 76% support for governments to switch fleets to electric vehicles.
  • 55% support for governments to offer loans to drivers to buy electric vehicles.
  • 73% support for all new apartment blocks to have EV charging stations installed.
  • 74% support for rebates to promote installation of charging stations for electric vehicles.

“Our research makes it clear that Australians are keen for the Government to encourage electric vehicle uptake through a range of policy measures,” Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute, said in a statement.

“Australia has a high-polluting transport sector, transport emissions have increased 59% since 1990 and continue to climb. There are numerous, popular policies available to the Government to help drive this around, including changing their fleet to electric vehicles,” he says.

The poll also showed that almost 4 out of 5 Australians also support stricter fuel efficiency standards (even if it means spending a bit more on a car), while at the same time two-thirds oppose banning sale of ICE cars after 2030.

While the support for tighter fuel emissions is encouraging it has to be asked, will the opposition to a ban on non-zero-emissions vehicles be so strong once EV/ICE price parity is reached?

Unsurprisingly, with the high price of EVs often inflated by the Luxury Car Tax, there was also 66% support for the removal of the tax from electric vehicles.

“Removing barriers to electric vehicle ownership, such as the Luxury Car Tax and providing concessional loans can drive serious growth in electric vehicle uptake,” says Merzian.

Source: The Australia Institute
Source: The Australia Institute

Certain measures unfortunately proved unpopular at this time: Increased excise on petrol to discourage choosing ICE vehicles (53% oppose), increased levies on ICE vehicles (48% oppose), dedicated EV parking spaces (56% oppose), and allowing EVs in bus lanes (62% oppose).

The survey also asked respondents what their voting intention was, with the results predictably showing that Green voters were most likely to offer widespread support to all policies.

On the other end of the spectrum, One Nation voters were least likely to do so.

Opinions across the political spectrum divided on issues of fuel excise and levying fuel-inefficient vehicles, while policieds that gained the most sport across the spectrum were the building of charging infrastructure and cutting the LCT.

Source: The Australia Institute
Source: The Australia Institute

Today also marks the deadline for the release of the Senate Inquiry into Electric Vehicles report by Senator Tim Storer.

It is expected that the report will contain a range of recommendations geared towards driving Australia along the road to zero emissions transport.

“State and Territory Governments have taken steps in the right direction but there has been a real absence of federal policy leadership.

“For the Senate Inquiry into Electric Vehicles to recommend the most popular of these policy initiatives is a step in the right direction.

“It is clear that helping Australia transition to electric vehicles is good for the economy, good for jobs and good for the environment, but our research shows it would also be good at the ballot box come election time,” says Merzian.

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