The lagging country

22 May 2017

Electric vehicle uptake in Australia will be supported through a new industry-led national body, and a government grant awarded to Climateworks.

At the launch of the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said that increasing the uptake of electric and lower emissions vehicles was an important part of the government’s broader strategy to reduce emissions.

To this end he also announced a grant of $390,000 to Climateworks, which will collaborate with the EVC in educating Australians about electric vehicles.

Australia is only slowly warming to the new technology, with barriers to its uptake including inadequate vehicle emission standards ("The awful truth: we’re literally years behind Europe and the US", writes Griffith University lecturer Anna Mortimore in The Conversation) and lacking incentives for electric vehicle purchases.

A 2016 global outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) emphasises that electric vehicles lie at the heart of sustainable transport systems, and their rapid deployment will be required for meeting the 2030 decarbonisation and sustainability goals set out in the Paris Declaration.

The Paris Declaration outlines a global deployment pathway of 150 million electric cars by 2030, consistent with the world having a 50% chance of limiting average global temperatures to 2 ℃.

Currently the global stock of electric cars stands at 1.26 million, and account for just 0.1% of the existing vehicle stock.

Mirroring the global average, in Australia electric vehicles also share just 0.1% of the market.

Evolution of battery cost and energy density
figure: International Energy Agency 2016 outlook report

The IEA argues that the global uptake of electric cars requires policy support, despite the recent technological progress that has driven down battery costs (down by 75% from 2008) and increased their energy density (up 400% from 2008) - both key barriers to the technology's market penetration.

However, there are several countries that are making considerable progress, with seven countries having achieved market shares of above 1% in 2015: Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France, China and the United Kingdom.

Growth of global electric vehicle stock
figure: Electric Vehicle Initiative

China is now the main market worldwide, ahead of the United States.

All of these countries are part of the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI), a multi-government policy forum established in 2009 to drive the deployment of electric vehicles worldwide. Its stated goal is to facilitate the global deployment of 20 million electric vehicles by 2020.

Australia does not participate in the EVI.

Electric Vehicle Council's Chair Behyad Jafari said at the launch of the new organisation: "While the global industry grows exponentially each year, Australia continues to miss out.


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