by Angela Macdonald-Smith
An uptake of electric cars in Australia similar to the rate seen in Norway would provide a $2.9 billion injection for the economy by 2030 and lift net employment by 13,400, a new study has found, increasing pressure on government to prioritise the rollout of the sector.
The study, carried out by PwC and partly funded by coal and new energy investor Trevor St Baker, examines the impact of electric cars reaching 57 per cent of new car sales by 2030, when they would account for 20.8 per cent of vehicles on the road.
That uptake is far beyond current projections by Australia’s energy market operator for EVs to account for 10.4 per cent of total cars on the road by the end of next decade. While Australia is among the top 20 nations for new car purchases, EVs represent only 1.2 per cent of sales.
The modelling, to be released on Wednesday, determines an investment benefit of $3.2 billion from the development of charging infrastructure through to 2030, the elimination of 16 million barrels a year of imported oil and a cumulative reduction in emissions of 18 million tonnes.
Savings for drivers would reach $1700 a year because of the lower cost of running an electric car compared with an internal combustion engine one, according to the study, which was partly funded by Mr St Baker’s Energy Innovation Fund, owner of a stake in EV fast-charging developer Tritium.
The report, funded also by the Electric Vehicle Council and the NRMA motoring organisation, comes as car makers call for a stable regulatory framework that would lead to increased investment in EV-related sectors and infrastructure. Australia is running well behind most developed markets in EV uptake in the absence of policy measures that offset the upfront cost premium that the cars demand and amid consumer concerns about the availability of charging infrastructure and the distance a vehicle can travel without the battery needing recharging.
Federal Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has compared the “global revolution” in EVs with the introduction of the iPhone but has stopped short of committing the government to further measures to support uptake.
EVC head Behyad Jafari said Australia’s economic competitive would be harmed if the country continued to lag behind on electric vehicles.
“At its core, the transition to electric vehicles is about moving from a system run on imported oil to one powered by electricity we generate at home,” he said, pointing to a “direct and obvious benefit” to the economy from supporting the rollout.
Mr St Baker, whose fund has more than $200 million invested in energy-related businesses, noted that Australia is “leading the world” in technology for the ultra-fast charging of vehicles but is trailing on adoption of EVs, leaving the economy at risk of running behind.
Tritium, which is partly owned by another coal baron, Brian Flannery, has only a handful of customers in Australia and exports most of its charging products to Europe and the US.
“By boosting industries based in Australia, we put ourselves in the driver’s seat to create economic growth and jobs that serve the future of the transport industry, not the past,” the EVC said.
“As a result of the failure to embrace electric vehicles, consumers remain vulnerable to retail fuel prices, higher operating and maintenance costs, and a lack of retail transparency and competition.”