As Australia continues to lag behind the rest of the world in the uptake of electric vehicles – and snub the environmental benefits and economic opportunities that could go with it – the call is growing for the federal government to finally do something, and setting a target for its own fleet seems an obvious first step.
The issue came briefly into public debate just before Xmas, when the federal government announced it was looking at renewing the chauffeur-driven “Comcars” that are used to ferry around ministers and MPs.
Currently, they are driving Australian-made Holden Caprices, but as there is no significant local car manufacturing industry any more, only fossil fuel cars costing $100,000 plus from major European brands like BMW, Mercedes and Audi seem to be on the agenda.
Senator Tim Storer, the independent from South Australia who chaired the recent Senate committee into EVs, wants the federal government to set a target of 50 per cent of new purchases for its 5,000-strong car fleet by 2025.
He got the Parliamentary Budget Office to do some modelling, based around current prices for EVs and ICE (internal combustion engine) cars, and the cost over forward estimates (the next four years out to 2022) was just $5 million.
That’s not much for the government to send a strong signal to the community, and more importantly to the EV manufacturing industry and charging network providers, that it is serious about this transition to EVs, which even the die-hards in the major parties appear to accept is both inevitable and beneficial.