Almost two dozen electric vehicle models hit the track in Sydney, as part of a Clean Energy Finance Corporation coordinated opportunity for fleet managers to test drive the – gradually – growing selection of EVs on sale in Australia.
A total of 22 vehicles from 16 different manufacturers, including Tesla, BMW, Hyundai, Nissan, Jaguar and Mini, were made available to more than 100 of Australia’s fleet managers, for a test-drive around the rather wet Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Australia ranks as the world’s 16th largest market for new vehicles but ranks even lower – at 21st – in terms of new EV sales.
The CEFC hopes that the test day will address some of the misconceptions about EV’s including performance, range and the ease and speed of recharging.
“Australians have traditionally been early adopters of new technology, but we have fallen behind the pack when it comes to EVs,” CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said.
“Fleets buyers purchase as many as one in five new vehicles in Australia. We want to see EVs become their fleet vehicle of choice. It’s about using their market power to influence the way we use our roads and the impact we have on our environment.”
The CEFC sees the increased adoption of electric vehicles, particularly for fleet applications, as providing a strong alignment with its investment mandate, including the ability to pair electric vehicles with renewable electricity.
“The reality is that we need to cut emissions right across our economy, from electricity to transport and more. Australians are already acting on electricity, with more and more of us putting solar PV on our rooftops.,” he said
“We can also have a big impact on emissions if we put electric vehicles in our garages, supported by charging infrastructure.”
“In a smaller market like Australia, we know it will take time for more EV models to become available, and for prices to come down, so EVs are more affordable for personal buyers. For fleet buyers, where driving needs are different, there is an opportunity for the EV transition to occur more quickly.”
“Increasing the share of EVs on the road translates directly into lower emissions from fuel combustion. While EV charging will add to demand for electricity, emissions from vehicle charging will fall as we increase our share of renewables,” Learmonth said.
“By working with industry groups and other financiers, it’s clear that vehicle buyers want to see lower vehicle costs and more models to encourage them to switch to EVs. We hope that increased buyer interest in EVs from volume buyers such as fleet owners can encourage EV manufacturers to grow their share of the Australian market.”
Australia’s transport sector produces around one-fifth of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and is an often overlooked opportunity for emissions reductions, with cars and light vehicles responsible for three-quarters of overall transport emissions. Emissions from the sector have grown consistently and was amongst the fastest growing sector in Australia.
By targeting fleet operators, CEFC sees significant opportunity to stimulate the update of electric vehicles in Australia, with fleet purchasers representing around 20 per cent of all new car sales in Australia.
The regular turn over of fleet vehicles, with vehicles often being replaced after two or three years, would raise the potential for growth in the second-hand market for EVs in Australia.
The CEFC has provided finance for more than 1,000 EV’s through co-financing programs established in partnership with banks and other lenders, and confirmed to RenewEconomy that the CEFC was considering what role it could play in supporting the resale of fleet vehicles and maximising the recoverable value from fleet vehicles at the end of their life.
The resale value is a crucial point for fleet owners, with electric vehicles attracting higher prices, which can often be recouped over the life of a vehicle through lower operating costs.
On hand at the demonstration day was SEA Electric, which provided a demonstration of the all-electric delivery truck that it has produced for Woolworths, and JET Charge/Chargefox, to demonstrate its rapid charging infrastructure.
The CEFC held a similar test drive event in Melbourne last year, with almost half of attendees saying that they would be looking to shift to electric vehicles within the next three years.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.