New national body to drive growth of electric vehicles in Australia

A new national body that aims to drive the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia was officially launched in Canberra last week.

The Electric Vehicle Council is an industry-led organisation representing and coordinating the broader electric vehicle industry in Australia. Representing companies involved in providing, powering and supporting electric vehicles, its members sell more than 350,000 new vehicles per year in Australia, and have more than six million customers in Australia.

Electric Vehicle Council members include diverse energy businesses ActewAGL, AGL Energy, Synergy and TransGrid; automotive manufacturers Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Tesla and Volkswagen Group; infrastructure and fleet businesses JET Charge and Lennock Fleet; not-for-profit ClimateWorks Australia; project engineering firm ITP Renewables and motoring club Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV).

Josh Frydenberg, Minister for Energy and Environment, who attended the launch, announced a AUD390,000 (USD290,347) grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia.

The Electric Vehicle Council’s Chair, Behyad Jafari, said the market for electric vehicles includes significant opportunities to deliver economic investment, innovation and environmental sustainability.

“While the global industry grows exponentially each year, Australia continues to miss out. In the next 12 months, almost one million electric vehicles are projected to be sold, with more than AUD50 billion (USD37.2 billion) invested in the industry over the last 10 years,” he said.

“Addressing the barriers preventing the mass uptake of electric vehicles in Australia requires a consistent and collaborative effort across a range of sectors.

“In addition to introducing vehicle emission standards, key policy measures include incentivising electric vehicle purchase in the short term as the technology works to meet price parity through upfront incentives and taxation measures, as well as establishing a recommended roadmap for national public charging infrastructure.

“We welcome others from across industry, consumer groups and government to join the Electric Vehicle Council as we work to build and provide certainty for investment in the Australian electric vehicle industry.”

The funding from ARENA would support a broader effort to educate and engage Australians about electric vehicles, according to Scott Ferraro, ClimateWorks Australia’s head of implementation.

“Globally, the number of electric vehicles sold annually is growing rapidly. However in 2014, electric vehicle sales accounted for just 0.1% of new cars sold in Australia,” he said.

“This funding will enable us to work with the Electric Vehicle Council to provide more information about electric vehicles to Australian consumers and undertake research on the best policies to drive greater uptake of electric vehicles, particularly at the early stages in order to increase model choice and infrastructure.

“The council will also publish a state of electric vehicles report annually so we can monitor progress on the transition of the Australian fleet.”

Ferraro said electric vehicles provide a significant range of environment, economic and social benefits.

“When powered by renewable energy, electric vehicles are zero emission vehicles. This will help us meet our emission reduction targets faster and at lower cost, and can reduce impacts from air pollution in our cities,” he said.