Source: Pixabay/paulbr75
Source: Pixabay/paulbr75

The big question for Australians when it comes to electric vehicles is … when will EV adoption here catch up with the rest of the world?

Going by recent announcements from the current federal government: not anytime soon.

A one page press release promising an electric vehicle strategy from the coalition government in late February (entitled “A National Strategy for Electric Vehicles”) stated that “Managed well, the shift to electric vehicles could support more efficient electricity networks by smoothing out peak demand and avoiding costly generation and network investments.”

And that “addressing these issues now is necessary.”

Effectively a policy to develop a policy, it did at least give some hope that an actual policy might not be too far away.

That hope was however dashed with the March 26 confirmation from the office of Melissa Price (the federal environment minister) that the Coalition does not intend to release their National Strategy for Electric Vehicles until the middle of 2020. To say they will miss the boat by that time is an understatement.

Around the world, EV adoption is driven by the need to clean up vehicle emissions, in terms of both air pollution and greenhouse gas.

This has so far been driven by governments using a three-pronged approach involving carrots, sticks and policy. The carrots are many, and can involve subsidies for purchasing EVs, tax and registration discounts, free tollway use, access to transit lanes and free parking.

The sticks include increasingly stricter vehicle emission standards, restrictions on ICE vehicle use in city centres, and setting dates for future outright bans on new ICE vehicle sales.

Policy can include making vehicle fleets purchase EVs instead of ICE wherever possible (which increases both the future second-hand supply & EV choice by encouraging manufacturers to import them); replacing public diesel bus fleets with electric models; installing public charging; reducing red-tape to make the installation of EV charging by private providers easier and mandating housing standards to include provision for EV charging capacity.

Throughout the world, working examples of what governments can do to manage the uptake of EVs are readily available. The report by Tim Storer’s Senate Committee is also out there providing an Australian context for applying them here.

It is therefore not hard to do any of these thing – if the will is there.

The coalition’s press release, and subsequent announcement from Melissa Price’s office proves it isn’t.

New, stricter vehicle emission standards have been sitting on a government desk gathering dust for several years now.

The line in the one-page electric vehicle strategy press release on “… mandating an electric vehicle plug type” is all but redundant now, with CCS2 becoming the default standard adopted by almost all EVs imported to this country already.

EVs are already here. The transition is inevitable. We can either choose to manage it well for the benefit of all, or follow the current ‘do nothing’ approach and let the problems of an unmanaged transition come to home to roost.

We now await what the alternative government will have to say about EV adoption in their environment policy, which according to their spokespeople is expected to be released ‘sometime soon’.

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