The top reason given by drivers to buy an electric vehicle is to save on fuel costs, but older drivers are less likely to be able to imagine a clean transport future, a new report from electricity provider Origin Energy has shown.
As Australian drivers grapple with fluctuating petrol and diesel prices, one in three are increasingly considering going electric to escape the fuel price cycle – although there are still concerns about range anxiety, access to enough charging infrastructure and the higher expense of electric vehicles.
Around 60% of drivers aged from 18 to 54 cite savings on fuel costs as a top reason to go electric, according to the report which was released on Tuesday and surveyed 1,000 drivers.
Source: Origin EnergyWhile the reason for older Australians’ reluctance to accept the electric vehicle transition may in part be because one in four Australians, according to the Origin survey, believe an electric vehicle costs around $200-500 a month to charge, it is also in part due to an inability to imagine a future with electric cars.
One in three Australians say they will have an electric vehicle within five years – but the rest cannot imagine owning one, according to the report.
Of those one in three, younger Australians are much more accepting of the EV revolution, with 43% sure they will own an EV within the next five years compared to just 19% of older Australians.
Compared to wanting to save on fuel costs, the desire to lower a personal carbon footprint was a consideration for fewer drivers, showing that personal financial considerations top global concern for the environment for more people.
To a much lesser extent, using an electric vehicle as a “mobile battery” was considered the third to reason to go electric for about 3 in 10 Australians – but then again this is not surprising as the only EV available here currently capable of bidirectional charging is the Nissan Leaf (and this not yet approved).
(Side note: Electric vehicles do not cost $500 a month to charge: the average daily commute of an Australian is around 40km, which depending on the vehicle and energy plan could cost as little as $3 a day, less if charged off solar or during off peak.)
Barriers to electric vehicle uptake
Concerns about range anxiety, access to enough charging infrastructure and the higher expense of electric vehicles were cited – yet again – as the biggest barriers to switch to electric vehicles.
About 7 in 10 of those surveyed cited the higher cost of EVs as a barrier to buying one. Although there are now two electric vehicles in Australia that start at under $A50,000 – the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Ioniq – this is still a good $20,000 more than simialr ICE vehicles.
Again, it was older Australians who were more concerned about this. This could be in part because it will take time for the price of EVs to fall as battery costs come down, something that may not be seen in the lifetime of the oldest Australians in the surveyed age groups.
When it comes to charging infrastructure though, most Australians are not concerned about access to charging networks, with less than half indicating this is a barrier.
Range anxiety is also no longer a concern for most young drivers – who may be aware of 400km+ range vehicles now on the market in Australia. In contrast, more older drivers still rate this a concern.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.