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Senate Electric Vehicle Inquiry: is Australia charging ahead or being left unplugged?

Aurecon shares its key findings following the bipartisan Senate Committee’s call for a national electric vehicle strategy to be developed to accelerate electric vehicle uptake in Australia.

To support the deployment of electric vehicles, the committee recommended that the Australian Government coordinate with industry to develop a plan for the rollout of a national public charging network.

07 February 2019 – A bipartisan Senate Committee has called for a national electric vehicle strategy to be developed to accelerate electric vehicle uptake in Australia.

The Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles has made 17 recommendations across a broad range of portfolios and interests in a report issued on 30 January 2019.

To help understand what these recommendations mean for government and industry, Aurecon’s Urban Mobility and Integrated Transport team has summarised the key findings by different sectors across the economy.

General Recommendations

In addition to calling for the development of a national electric vehicle strategy, the committee also made recommendations aimed at improving the public perception of electric vehicles to alleviate concerns and increase demand.

This includes calls for a consumer education campaign led by the Australian Government, as well as support to host a Formula-E championship race in Australia to highlight electric vehicle capabilities.

The committee also called on the Australian Government to consider establishing national electric vehicle targets, without finding agreement on what these targets should be.

Fleet transition

The committee saw government fleets as an opportunity to lead the transition to electric vehicles, recommending that the Australian Government establish an electric vehicle target for its fleet.

This recommendation was aimed at creating a second-hand electric vehicle market to improve affordability of the technology for the broader public. The potential for government procurement of electric vehicles to support the local manufacturing industry was identified.

Manufacturing & Automotive Sector

Recognising the opportunities for Australian firms to manufacture electric vehicles and their components, the committee called on the Australian Government to develop a comprehensive 10-year electric vehicle manufacturing roadmap.

To support this potential economic growth area, the committee also recommended that the Australian Government work with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council to establish national training arrangements for automotive service technicians in relation to electric vehicles. 

The need for funding for apprenticeships and traineeships in the local electric vehicle servicing and manufacturing sector was highlighted.

Energy Sector

To support the deployment of electric vehicles, the committee recommended that the Australian Government coordinate with industry to develop a plan for the rollout of a national public charging network. It was recognised that government funding can support more expansive coverage, particularly in areas that may not be commercially viable.

The committee recognised the impact the widespread adoption of electric vehicles may have on the electricity network. To address this the committee recommended that the Australian Government work with electricity market agencies to develop a 10-year plan to identify priority network infrastructure upgrades.

The committee also called for the Australian Government to work with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to develop a strategy for AEMO to access and direct distributed energy resources (DER) to charge or provide electricity to the grid. The examples of DER cited by the committee include rooftop solar panels and electric vehicle batteries.

Built Environment

In recognition that many existing buildings in Australia do not have the electrical infrastructure to support electric vehicles, the committee called on state and federal governments to explore necessary amendments to the National Construction Code to render all new dwellings electric vehicle charger ready.

Next steps

While it is unlikely that the government will form a response to the Committee’s recommendations prior to the 2019 federal election, the additional comments by Labor Senators provides interesting context.

Senators Carr and Smith highlight the importance placed by the ALP on a just transition, where the desire to increase electric vehicle take-up is not bluntly achieved through providing subsidies to people who are already well off.

The Labor Senators note that price parity for electric vehicles will only be achieved as a result of sustained scientific, engineering and technical effort.

Through our thinking papers and seminars, Aurecon will keep you updated on future developments in this constantly changing area of transport.

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