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Labor’s Butler on why right wingers see EVs as leftist conspiracy

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Cuba is often branded as the “land that time forgot” or the “Jurassic Park for cars” – a country where you can reportedly find Soviet-era Ladas on the streets, along with ageing Austins and wing-finned luxury American sedans of the 1950s.

That moniker was achieved by the closed-door policy of Castro’s communist regime, and economic sanctions, which effectively closed the door to new models and technology.

But what chance does Australia have of becoming a similar living museum – of petrol and diesel cars – self imposed by political inertia as the rest of the world passes it by in the rush to take up electric vehicles?

Don’t laugh. Cry. It’s a real possibility.

As Mark Butler, Labor’s spokesman for climate change, notes, Australia is about the only OECD country in the world that has no emissions or fuel standards on its cars.

That means, as the Climate Change Authority pointed out in a report that has sat on the Coalition government’s desks for four years, that Australians are paying about $7,000 more than they need to over the life of their cars.

Worse, the same right wing that has fought against climate action, a carbon price, renewable energy, and latterly battery storage, is now targeting EVs, just as the technology is emerging to challenge existing models and technologies.

Australia ranks a distant last among western countries in the uptake of EVs, and as a new report from The Australia Institute notes, its emissions from cars, particularly diesel, are soaring. (See table above).

Even visitors to developing countries like Sri Lanka are stunned by the range and availability of EVs. In Australia, however, the take-up is just 0.2 per cent, a tenth of what it is in nations like the US, UK and Europe, and one-hundredth of leading countries like Norway.

The fear now is that the transition to EVs, rather like the efforts on emissions and energy, will become another political football.

Any number of reports – from the NRMA, the Climate Change Authority, The Australia Institute, Climateworks, and the newly formed Australian Electric Vehicle Council – have pointed to the need and benefit of a smart policy on vehicle emissions, and EVs themselves.

The federal Coalition government – through the likes of environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg – has raised the issue, noting the global trends. But tentative steps have been slapped down by conservative media and internal dissent from MPs fearing a “carbon tax on wheels.”

And it is set to become yet another major difference between the major parties as they enter the next federal election campaign.

When RenewEconomy sat down on Tuesday for an interview with Butler, he was carrying around a big dossier on EV reports, analysis and policy proposals in his briefcase, as he helps put together Labor’s policy position.

“I hope not”, Butler says when asked if Australia – already a dumping ground for vehicles that cannot be sold in other markets due to their poor fuel and emissions standards – could emerge as latter-day Cuba, a living museum of the internal combustion engine.

“Sometimes I listen to the likes of Barnaby Joyce and other Coalition MPs who say things like they would rather die in a ditch on the side of road rather than see EVs come into Australia.

“I wonder what they see as the future of transport in this country being.”

Butler, in that interview with RenewEconomy that you can listen to on our podcast channel here, notes that there has been the “most extraordinary shift in consciousness about EVs over last three years.

“Everyone who watches this space understand how far behind the curve Australia is,” Butler says.

“The technology change in the last couple of years has been extraordinary. You see the big global car makers shift all their R&D dollars from petrol to electric vehicles … it just gives the sense this could change very quickly.

“The real risk is that while the car industry goes through this transition, if we continue to pull cardigans over the head, as Barnaby Joyce and others would have us do, Australia will not have access to the newest model.”

Butler says Labor is planning its own major policy on EVs heading into the coming federal election, but says – despite that dossier in his briefcase – the party has yet to come to a landing point.

“We’ve made it clear that we want an ambitious transport policy to take to the next federal election that recognises that the car industry has shifted … we want to make sure that consumers in Australia have access to new models.”

Butler notes that in South Australia, which is effectively majority powered by renewable energy, transport has now emerged as the largest source of emissions.

This same changing emissions profile has driven the ACT government to switch its focus from electricity to transport – now that its 100 per cent renewable energy target is all but met – to ensure road transport profits from the clean power generated by wind and solar.

Butler says the shift to EVs will be the “most significant change in land transport since the shift from the horse and carriage. “

He also points to the emergence of automation, and research by the likes of UBS, which suggests the number of car sales around the world will collapse by half as shared “robo-vehicles” emerge.

“This will profoundly change a whole range of things,” Butler says, pointing to reduced accidents, deaths and injuries, improvement in the quality of people’s lives, and the impact on cities.

What, for instance, would become of the parking lots and subterranean car parks in a world with shared vehicles? But he also points to the need to manage this transition, and ensure that the different needs of regional Australia are also taken into account.

“The cities have particular dynamics in them. Regional Australia has quite unique dynamics. We need to have transport technology that continues to meet the needs of regional Australia.”

The big fear, however, is that transport will move more and more to the front line of the climate wars.

“I struggle to explain the reaction that some from the hard right in the Coalition give to developments in transport …. They tend … to grasp on to technology developments and see as them some sort of Leftist conspiracy.”  

Pocket
  • Warwick Sands

    Probably the best thing governments (state and federal) can do is plan to move their fleets to predominantly EV.

    Assuming that the roll-over is three to five years, second hand EVs will start to appear on the market. Some Tesla model 3s will start to appear in Australia 2020 and over time hopefully other brands will also become available.

    Other incentives would be nice but the greatest inhibitor is the lack of affordable vehicles. Anecdotal evidence from a lot of the early adopters in the USA seems to indicate that the difference in maintenance costs covers the extra cost of the car loan for the more expensive EV.

    • Joe

      The ACT / Shane Rattenbury has already flagged changing its car fleet over to EV’s which was reported in an earlier article in these very pages of Renew Economy.

    • ben

      Agreed. Although I think the roll-over for EVs will be a lot longer

      • Warwick Sands

        True. With so little maintenance required I expect that the life of an EV will be at least 10 to 15 years. Fleet cars may be a little different due to tax writte off schedules.

        • ben

          Getting off topic, but you can imagine the whole tax and depreciation regime needing to change with EVs. It will have a lot of flow on effects

    • Gyrogordini

      Apart from switching their fleets over, the other major challenge is supporting expanded charging infrastructure. Governments need to lead, steward, demo, push – the market will follow if it sees potential profit. Why aren’t servos at least putting in dirt cheap 32A Level 2 points, sussing the market, while deciding where to put their $30k DC Level 3 Rapid Chargers?
      Without comprehensive, nation-wide charging infrastructure, EVs – apart from mine, and Teslas – will be stuck in cities, tied to their nightly recharge. (My 110 km EV has taken me 7,000 rural km in four months, and I’ve drunk a lot of coffee in those 70 AC recharge periods of between 1-14 hours…)

      • Greg Hudson

        Sounds like your coffee costs more than the kWh costs 😉

        • Gyrogordini

          yep, it adds up. But the walks to and from the Showgrounds where it’s charging tend to keep me a little fitter! Still worth it – would never go back to ICEing.

    • Greg Hudson

      ”the difference in maintenance costs covers the extra cost of the car loan for the more expensive EV”
      I believe this is no longer the case in Australia at least. I have seen numerous adverts for FF vehicles with incredibly low maintenance costs (down to $0) for up to 5 years, which is even lower than EV maintenance costs. It appears the FF vehicle makers are seeing the coming impact of EV’s and have already started firing broadsides at an EV market which doesn’t even really exist yet (in any real sense). It looks to me like they are crapping themselves ! (Just my opinion)

  • The FCAI are fighting tooth and nail to ensure emissions regulations don’t come into play. They will fight hard, and they will fight dirty. The proposed 105 gCO2e/km fleet average limit is impossible for Australia’s most popular vehicles, all SUVs, unless they start to stock EVs in the mix AND actually attempt to sell them. We live in hope that the federal government can get the right emissions regulations through parliament, and even better, render them moot by shifting to EVs.

    • Joe

      Australia sold 1.182 million new cars last year and nearly 40% were those dreaded as I call them ‘Mummy Wagon Death Machines’ aka SUV’s. They are big, emissions spewing, fuel guzzlers that have no place on city streets.

      • ben

        That’s a great name for a metal band.

        • Joe

          ….rev the engines for da Muzak?

      • Ralph Buttigieg

        Yep. Those are the cars consumers want. Do you really think it would be a good idea for a major political party to tax or restrict those vehicles? I doubt it. Far better to let EV costs continue to down as they already are.

        • arne-nl

          “….that consumers want….”

          That consumers are talked into.

          It’s naive to think everyone just wants to lose a lot of money on something that they don’t need. It’s mostly marketing.

          • Ralph Buttigieg

            Its even more naive to think it will be politically popular to tax popular cars.

      • George Darroch

        There will be plenty of those in 15 years time. The difference is they will all be electric.

    • Phil NSW

      What about a private members bill to introduce emission standards? Only need one MP to get the ball rolling on an important policy area.

  • DevMac

    “Sometimes I listen to the likes of Barnaby Joyce and other Coalition MPs who say things like they would rather die in a ditch on the side of road rather than see EVs come into Australia.”

    I guess it could be said that Barnaby’s career is dead in a ditch, so we’re definitely overdue for more EVs.

    Such extreme rhetoric only serves to show the extent to which these people are wedded to the status quo. So obviously invested in it they cannot see any positive in the alternative. It may not be intentional corruption, but it is undoubtedly a corruption of logic.

    • George Darroch

      The Abbott-Turnbull Government is the walking dead, the onion eater and Tophat functionally indistinguishable in their ability to block progress in Australia.

      • Gyrogordini

        And 48% of the population continue to vote for them….

    • Morph3us

      I call it ‘willful ignorance’

    • MrMauricio

      and,who could be the bitch ditch??

    • Phil NSW

      We are not only overdue for more EVs we are overdue for a political change so these right-wing ?????? can be seen off to the annuals of history. Bring on an election.

    • Steven Gannon

      Its intentional, have no doubt.

    • Chris Schneider

      Barnaby represents people who actually need Diesel cars at the moment. In the bush they are still needed. Barnaby is quick to make illogical statements but reality is without a range of over 1000 kms many people from rural areas will not be able to go electric.

      • DevMac

        However Barnaby’s statements are monumentally stupid from someone in a leadership position for an entire country. His statement makes it appear that EVs will be mandatory and diesel will no longer be an option. That’s just inflammatory and misrepresentative of reality.

        • Chris Schneider

          That’s not who he sees himself as. He speaks for the bush never for the city. The argument of this or that has been a stalwart of conservitive excuse politics. It’s bad political us v them that creates Trumpism. Both side are very much at fault. Mediscare was exactly the same if not worse.

      • Peter F

        Most of the diesels the buy currently don’t have a 1,000 km range. A hi- lux is about 800 km. The difference with an electric vehicles is that most of them will be fully charged every morning so the trip around the farm and or even to the local town and back ( 95% of rural Australian live within 50 km of their nearest town) is easy with 200-300 km range. Even for really long distance travel a vehicle with a 1.5 litre ICE and 60 kWh battery will do the job while using about 40% less fuel on a long trip and 70% less over a year

        • Chris Schneider

          I own a 100D, Although yes you CAN recharge at home. If you need to do trips of over 300km each day, say to wells or town or other things, a very common thing, the car won’t be charged in time. Look I get that it’s not an every day thing but there is very much a need for more mileage in rural areas. Also pulling horse floats or other things very common in rural areas drops the range of the cars. I would love to say a Tesla can do it, this is my second Tesla I love the cars! reality is they are not currently practical. How about a focus on City areas first! It’s NOT a All or nothing proposal! It’s a mix just like Energy in the short term.

          • Peter F

            Chris. I think we roughly agree, but many of these political arguments are all or nothing rubbish. It may be that 10% of all vehicles are diesel for a very long time but there are plenty of I30’s, Corollas and Mazda 3’s sold in the country and if they have 300 km range that would be more than adequate, particularly if those same rural areas had good long distance public transport. Mildura to Melbourne in 3.5 hours for example.
            Even for horse floats which more often than not travel less than 200km, technology like the Range Rover hybrid can still halve annual emissions

  • Andy Saunders

    Actually, there’s no reason the ACT government can’t go well beyond 100% renewables for electricity. They just have to extend their current schemes.

    They’d likely make out like bandits, a handy boost to the revenue base…

    (Of course, no reason not to work on EVs at the same time…)

  • Pasquale Perazzelli

    giles
    stop exaggerating.
    the proliferation rate of EV’s will be driven by economics and market demand.
    it will take longer than some superficial naïve assumptions suggest – at least 2 decades assuming they continue their cost decline
    we do not need another round of tax payer subsidies.

    • DevMac

      You’re missing at least two of the points:

      1. “Australia is about the only OECD country in the world that has no emissions or fuel standards on its cars.”

      2. “Even visitors to developing countries like Sri Lanka are stunned by the range and availability of EVs. In Australia, however, the take-up is just 0.2 per cent, a tenth of what it is in nations like the US, UK and Europe, and one-hundredth of leading countries like Norway.”

      Australia is behind in metrics of progress. The whole point of taxpayer subsidies is to spur enough interest to generate enough momentum that it can continue on its own. Like venture capital; a kick-start.

      The more EVs there are on the road the more interest is generated, the more word of mouth and actual experience gets ‘out in the world’ rather than the little-England style of bad-mouthing the unfamiliar and therefore going nowhere.

      • Pasquale Perazzelli

        are you suggesting Australia receives inferior model cars – nonsense
        the key reason for the lower take up in aus is all about economics

        • Morph3us

          Inferior model cars? Absolutely. One case in point. The Ford Mustang. A 2 star safety death trap that Ford actually removed safety features from in order to make more money on in Australia. They thought ANCAP was not going to test it. If that doesn’t scream dumping ground, I don’t know what does.

        • Barri Mundee

          Yes, definitely inferior is terms of emissions standards that are the norm in the EU

        • George Darroch

          We definitely get worse cars. Manufacturers dump their older engine models here because they can no longer sell them elsewhere.

          • Pasquale Perazzelli

            Gents
            Instead of making assertions,
            Take the top ten selling models in aus and show me the differences in emission levels compared to the us ,japan,korea and eu

          • Gyrogordini

            Do your own homework.

          • john

            You are not very well informed are you the international manufacturers dumb vehicles in this country.
            As to emission levels U must know they are rubbish.

          • Patrick Deasey

            Exactly, I recently bought a Hillux – available everywhere around the world from what I can see. What are these other so called dumped vehicles.? I couldn’t find a list online-
            What will drive the uptake of EV is choice and economics. When fuel prices rise enough and there is a better range, Aussies will be shown to be rapid adopters. For me, I can’t wait to buy EV or at least hybrid Commercials / Utes, but there are none available.
            Subsidies may have helped kick start Rooftop solar, but self interest (economics) is what finally drove sales ballistic. The populace will make the move to EV when EV vehicles are available and affordable. I will be one of the first in line
            Good article, but needs more sources and facts, not assertions

        • Gyrogordini

          We absolutely get many second rate vehicles. Our fuel standards are pathetic, so we get all the stuff that can’t be sold in the first world OECD countries. LCT doesn’t help, neither the dramatic mark ups for “brands” – ever travelled in a taxi in Europe?

        • john

          Yes they do and I have seen it 2 model ago sold as latest what a rip off for ill informed consumers.

        • DevMac

          Not sure where it looks like I’m suggesting that.

          However, no emissions or fuel standards would mean Australia would be an option for ‘dumping’ cars that aren’t up to the standards set by other countries.

        • Roger Brown

          Jeeps in AUST. ? Heavy and shit on fuel economy . Have seen lots burnt on the side of roads , when they brake down . Its only the real dumb asses that buy dodgy vehicles from the North Mexico /USA plants .

      • john

        True Australia has no standards it gets worse car companies can sell vehicles that are 2 models old as the latest to the morons it that country.
        Yes mate what a laugh.

    • MrMauricio

      What are the others??Diesel fuel rebates and subsidies,free emissions to air river and sea?

    • Joe

      Oh, and your ICE chariots receive NIL subsidies???? But that’s okay we can all just take deep breaths a take it the fine particulates, the nitrous oxides and the rest of the crap that your ICE chariots belch out that sends us all to an earlier grave than needs to be.

      • MaxG

        Another troll; he opened the account two hours ago and made two posts so far.

        • Joe

          Not another TrolliBoy to go with our old mates, NOT, ‘Dee Vee’ and ‘C Wilkins’ who both pop up from time to time.

      • veqlargh

        As long as i can continue to drive/ride my ICE im happy.

        EV’s will happen eventually but the tech still isn’t up to the needs of everyone. It’s only really adept at short bursts of travel around the city or dense urban areas.

        • Joe

          “It’s only really adept at short bursts of travel around the city…” You taking the piss. What have been smoking lately?

    • john

      2 Decades are you totally deluded?
      My conclusion.
      Yes.

    • john

      No there is no need for any Subsidies all that is needed is supply as the compelling aspect of an EV that would be and Electric Vehicle is supply.
      NO Ice vehicle which you seem to be attached to can not compete on any level old mate your day is gone dusted it is in the rust bin of history old tech sorry old mate you’r day is gone. Just like the Steam Engine please get up to speed out of the 18 century up to the 21st.

    • Steven Gannon

      Ahh, the old ‘fake expert in the comnent section’ trick. Not many people fall for that crap anymore.

    • Roger Brown

      2019 , if a company won’t sell vehicles in Australia in large numbers , we can import OUR Car / bus /Van/ Bike etc etc . No need to waste 20years using Dirty ICE vehicles .

  • ben

    When the mass adoption of EVs and in particular autonomous EVs starts in other more advanced countries, there will be a glut of second hand ICE vehicles on the market. Where will they end up? Why, on Australian roads of course.

    • Ralph Buttigieg

      Considering that we are a car importer when the world moves to EV in a big way we will be importing those cars not second had ICE cars. Theres no need to force taxpayers to subsidize the rapid implementation of EVs.

      • ben

        Not necessarily. The price of ICE cars will drop as demand shifts to EVs. Even with subsidies EV cars will be more expensive, and it will make economic sense to import second hand ICE cars. People will not want to swap out necessarily, so there will be a period where ICE cars are essentially subsidised by EV purchases.

        • Ralph Buttigieg

          Theres no reason to believe EVs are inherently more expensive then ICEs. They are less complicated . The only expensive part is the battery system. As those cost come down, and they will, EV will get significantly cheaper. I expect them to be cheaper then conventional cars. Musk believes his batteries will be down to $100 per kwh in a couple of years or so.

          https://electrek.co/2018/06/09/tesla-battery-energy-density-cost-breakthroughs/

          • ben

            Yes they will, and car companies will cease to manufacture ICE cars. But this will happen unevenly in different markets, and I believe the cheap surplus ICE cars (both new and second hand) will be imported to Australia because domestic politics will ensure they are favoured over EV

          • Alan S

            You can add cheaper servicing to that.

    • Ren Stimpy

      “When the mass adoption of EVs and in particular autonomous EVs starts in other more advanced countries”

      …. we will have no choice but to do the the same in order to compete. California and some other advanced states in the US and countries in Europe will set a very low cost transportation model with EV/Autonomous that will attract investment. Australia will have no choice but to follow that model in order to remain competitive.

      Or instead of following, we could anticipate that transition and get in early … but who am I kidding with the federal government we have now.

    • Brunel

      Wrong. Used car imports are hardly allowed.

  • MrMauricio

    New Zealand-electic cars and electric car-shares and dedicated parking everywhere

    • Gyrogordini

      And a government not afraid to set charging standards, confront conservative lemmings, and step up to leverage opportunities.

  • Carl Raymond S

    They are forgetting that Australians love to travel, and are a multicultural lot with friends and family OS. They can’t pretend there isn’t a cleantech revolution happening. We see it through the internet and facebook. Each returning traveller *will* feel like they have stepped into Cuba and go ‘right – last time I vote for this recalcitrant mob of petrol heads’.

  • Robin_Harrison

    Surely you’re exaggerating. I myself saw a Tesla just the week before last, along with at least 5 Prii.

    • arne-nl

      Wow

    • Roger Brown

      My doctor has a Tesla P90D , he bought it out to Australia from the UK. Have spotted 2 x other Tesla’s in Sunnybank area in Qld .

      • Robin_Harrison

        My dentist has an electric skateboard and I have an electric bicycle. The electrification of transport in Oz is going gangbusters.

        • Rod

          Yes, I’ve spotted many, many more eBikes than Teslas.
          A ratio I would like to see continue.

          • Robin_Harrison

            Ebikes really are starting to take off and I think the quality and cost improvements of Chinese tech has had a lot to do with that. I suspect we’ll see a similar influx of Chinese EVs here in the next few years, particularly if the legacy makers continue their neglect of the Oz EV market.

          • Rod

            I imported a bolt on Chinese eBike kit and although it is bomb proof it is quite heavy. I see the company (Bafang) has a new generation of kits so maybe they have made improvements.

            I’m not so sure Australian’s have confidence in Chinese vehicles yet but I can see the South Korean branded EVs doing well.

          • Robin_Harrison

            Got a Bafang centre drive about 6 months ago. Really good and not too weighty. A far cry from the first hub drive I got about 18 years ago.
            The perception of Chinese vehicles now is probably similar to the perception of Japanese vehicles when they first hit the west and I expect the Chinese manufacturers will respond in the same way with really good tech. They’re currently getting lots of practice in the fastest growing EV market in the biggest auto market in the world, so when they start to export they’ll probably be quite good at it. It wouldn’t surprise me if they came to dominate the EV market globally. The legacy makers are not remotely ready for them.

          • Rod

            I have the BBSHD which I assume, at 6kg, is much heavier than the BBS02.
            Agreed, the Chinese will get there pretty quickly.

  • Chris Drongers

    Article would be improved by inclusion of some quotes and policies as evidence that the right wing of the LNP are ready to ‘die in the ditch’ for petrol and diesel vehicles.

    • mick

      happy to leave them to die in said ditch

  • Peter Todd

    EV’s are a fantastic solution to the average city commute. The issue is with Diesel. Batteries are possible for trucks and heavy vehicles but with Australia’s long distances the option of other technologies like Hydrogen fuel produced from renewable should also be considered to replace diesel. The option for a quick refuel is not an option currently for batteries but it is for gas and liquid fuels. Deciding on what pollution free options should replace diesel requires political leadership, otherwise very little is likely to happen.

    • Gyrogordini

      A 30 minute DC Rapid Charge every 2-3 hours is very possible. That is what the QLD, WA and NRMA Electric highways are all about.

      • Peter Todd

        30 minute recharge every 2-3 hours would not impress me if I owned a truck that did regular long distance trips. Current range of a semi from what I understand is well over 1,500km. Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered heavy vehicles would currently be more expensive to buy the battery powered trucks but may be better in the long run for Australia with our long distances.

        • Gyrogordini

          We HAD been talking about *cars* – not trucks/semis. That is a whole different ballgame – as per Nikola and Tesla Semi projects.

    • Kieran Latty

      Diesel electric hybrids can reduce emissions appreciably, especially the most toxic ones produced by overloaded diesels.

      • Peter Todd

        Yes hybrids are great but they are not the long term solution to eliminate carbon emissions. Full EV’s or renewable gas or liquid fuels can be eliminate carbon emissions.

  • Mike Shackleton

    I think suggesting that Australia will be the last country holding onto internal combustion engined vehicles is frankly a bit ludicrous. Cuba is an old car museum because once the sanctions hit after the revolution, they could not import new vehicles. They had to make do with what they had and make them last. Having visited Cuba, none of those classic American cars are in original format – they look great from a distance but up close the shiny paint job covers a multitude of modifications that have been made out of sheer necessity. Very few of those cars would be running big straight 6 or V8 engines anymore, apart from not having the parts, fuel is rationed so they potter around on 4 cylinder engines from Ladas.

    We are a small market in the global scheme of things. Our demands don’t have a huge impact on what manufacturers decide to make. And now we don’t have a local car manufacturing industry, we will have no choice to accept what the global car industry is making. If the whole sector transitions en masse to EV, why would they hold out making petrol models just to meet our needs?

    We may be lagging behind the times but once we make the move we are very fast on the uptake – look at how quickly rooftop PV is been taken up! Mainly because we are a bunch of conformist lemmings.

    • Rod

      No, I think conformist lemmings are those who put up with energy price increases and bleat at Government or Gentailers without taking personal action and responsibility.
      If my lack of bills and continuous cash credits make me a lemming. Meh!
      Conformist Lemmings will also be those who baulk at the higher cost of EVs and don’t do the sums of total cost of ownership and still complain about oil cartels or refiners or fuel tax.
      I’ll be a non conformist and use my eBike instead.

      • Mike Shackleton

        You might have very rational reasons for installing rooftop PV and using an eBike, but as rooftop PV penetration continues, the reason later adopters are giving for wanting solar panels is mainly “because my neighbours have them and I don’t want to miss out.” This has been documented in many articles, not just for solar but for other technology such as mobile phones, computers etc. Australia went from being a laggard in mobile phone ownership to having the highest rate of ownership in the space of about 5 years.

        Also we tend to trust real-life experience more than what an expert might tell us, so if we have a few neighbours telling us how great their rooftop solar is, we make it happen. I actually don’t care what a homeowner’s reasons for installing rooftop PV are – the end result is it hastens the transition.

        The same will happen for EVs, once they become more affordable and we actually have a few models available to us that can meet our needs – A Tesla Model S is a fantastic piece of gear but it’s not accessible to that many people. The Model 3 should go a long way to changing that but also a company like VW releasing EV models will kick start the process. We know that many of the German marques are committed to having an EV variant of each of their models in the next 5 years.

        • Rod

          Word of mouth and fear of missing out up to a point.
          But to me the “it’s all over man” moment was when I saw PV being advertised on TV. Admittedly cheap and nasty gear but that is what “woke” the masses.
          Storage is already on TV or the newer mediums so that will take off too.
          When I see a dedicated EV advert on TV, I’ll expect EVs to be talked about and purchased a lot more.
          My only hope is EVs are easily recognisable from their ICE variants as only the keen eyed and educated will notice their arrival.

        • Greg Hudson

          Here’s my word of mouth story…
          10 years (and 4 homes ago) I installed my first PV array of 1.5 Kw… My father in law came to dinner one night, and I told him what I had done, and that I was receiving a PFIT (Premium Feed In Tariff) of 66c/kWh. He basically called me a liar, so I asked him if he wanted to see my contract, which I duly showed him. He still didn’t believe it, even after reading it twice. He went home saying he would look it up on the internet. A couple of weeks went by and lo-and-behold he tells me he installying a 2Kw PV array himself. No mention of what I had told him though. He’s still getting the PFIT, and hasn’t paid a power bill in 10 years.

          • Rod

            I got PV very early in the piece and naturally would bang on about it. Most didn’t see the value and were probably right given the amount I paid.
            However, I think it is no coincidence that all of my extended family have PV, bar one. I found out after my Father passed that, after the figures confirmed it, he said “you know he was right after all”.
            They got theirs before the PFiT cutoff and Mum hasn’t had a bill since.

  • john

    Australia once know as the country that lead with Science.
    As that countries advancement on the use of a transport sorry just about last.
    The country embraced vehicles build stupid freeways why?
    Because they know no better.
    As to them looking at EV I doubt it as they like a meat pie and a bet.
    I.E. Not bright exactly that population frankly.
    I do not see Australia taking up EV because they are too dumb to realise the advantages of the technology.
    The last part technology explains the problem the people are morons frankly some get it the majority who watch Fox News or what ever rubbish will not be informed and will carry on as they do in their ignorance.

  • john

    I hope one of the State down there just bans the rubbish that is being dumped into Austryla.
    It is a joke country with the pathetic no standards in place.

  • trackdaze

    We are already seeing makers send us their low tech third world motors.

  • Brunel

    Utter hyperbole.

    If electric cars are cheaper to run, we will buy more electric cars. Just raise the import tax on oil to 20% and petrol will go up in price and people will buy more electric cars.

    50% of trips in Vancouver are done without a car – so we should be subsidising cycleways instead of electric cars.

    • Steven Gannon

      And what will poorer people do? It’s nowhere near that simple.

      • Brunel

        Put in a UBI. Martin Luther King wanted it. Ed Miliband wants it. Richard Di Natale wants it. Inequality is at a 70 year high now.

  • Ian

    Why fear a carbon tax on wheels when we already have a “carbon tax on wheels” it’s called fuel excise tax and it is $0.396 / litre. Doesn’t anybody realise this simple fact?

    • Ian

      Here we go then: burden of asthma costs $28 billion a year $700 million in medication alone. Cost to GDP 27 billion cost to tax revenue $6.4 billion Cost of fighting ISIS $500 million in 2015, cost of foreign military campaigns roughly $1 billion a year.

      Imports would be a direct reduction on GDP. In the old FF economy importing fuel was necessary to earn GDP, in the new EV economy , there is no need to import this fuel to earn GDP. Australia government revenue 23.8% of GDP. Add back this imported fuel drain on the economy $23 billion and tax it like the rest of GDP: $5.47billion.

      Foreign economies have $3.3 trillion invested in Australia if there was no need to import oil this could have been Australian money invested in Australia. This investment burden could be said to be partly money lost to imports and repatriated as foreign investments. These entities would like to expatriate their returns on their investments, say 10% per annum. $23 billion lost to oil imports equals $23 billion a year not invested by Australians in Australia, and $2.3 billion a year lost overseas as a return on their money each year thereafter. This problem is obviously compounded every year. Last years $23 billion is added to this years and the next etc. investments don’t last forever so you could guesstimate a steady state loss of capital to overseas investments of say 50% of the yearly investment. Ie 1/2 of $23 billion is $11.5 billion tax this at the GDP rate as the Government’s share $2.7 billion.

      Add this all up: governments loss of tax/burden of expenses:

      burden of asthma $6.4 billion
      Cost of asthma meds $0.7 billion
      Military costs defending oil trade $1 billion
      Import fuel drain on economy $5.47 billion
      Loss of reinvestment by Australians in Australia and subsequent loss of gdp to expatriated foreign investment returns, governments share of that loss to GDP: $2.7 billion

      Potential cost to government’s balance sheet by importing oil: $16. 27 billion, vs revenue from importing that oil: $18.3 billion. Ie false economy for the government insisting on an EV-free future.

      This analysis is probably highly flawed, but is just an attempt to quantify the absurdity of importing oil to get a bundle of tax dollars when the alternative of EV is so much cleaner and more elegant an option.

  • arne-nl

    Thank you for organising the World Solar Challenge every other year. It’s a huge inspiration for those involved in sustainable transport.

    So much so that we now have a true solar car start-up in The not-so-sunny Netherlands: Lightyear.

    But I thought: “why don’t the Australians have a solar car startup? It makes much more sense in sunny Down Under.” Now I understand.

  • RobertO

    Hi All, here is NZ take on EV’s and part of what is happening. Road User Changers (RUC) are applied to all Vehicles but Diesel also have to have a log book with mileage in it so you can pay your RUC. They are only giving up the first 2 % income on vehicles, but look at the Truck savings. This is 2018 presentation.

    http://www.windenergy.org.nz/store/doc/Session2-Elizabeth-Yeaman-EECA.pdf

  • Rob G

    The right have defended ‘stupid’ for a long, long time. In fact, being stupid appears to be part of their party mantra. And the only reasonable explanation apart from being quite ‘thick’, is the obvious interference from vested interests. The Minerals council, the Property council and the Business council (and let’s not forget the IPA) are well known to have a strong influence within the Liberal party. In fact, their connections are so brazen and obvious – they don’t even bother to hide it. The revolving door has been openly acknowledged by Abbott within Parliament itself. The problem is their interests do not correlate to the National and Climate interests and only by removing them can Australia get back onto the world stage of progress.

    • MaxG

      As you have discovered the ‘system’ works brilliantly as designed.

  • Chris Schneider

    Giles, I know you’re a labour person but this article is just Labour propaganda! If you ask car companies that have EVs why they don’t supply them to Australia they will tell you it’s because we travel on average further than other countries and they don’t see the value in their EVs, until now. The Model S and X are selling well in Australia, even without good subsidies. Now that EVs have bigger ranges there are many companies eyeing off Australia. As for Dumping, there are 73 million cars produced every year. We would each need to buy three or four a year! even children! Reality is our economy is not big enough to effect any change in the global car manufacture market. California is doing a great job of moving the world. We will and have benefited from this.

    It is completely stupid to argue that we would be the dumping ground! Car companies know the way the world is moving and they are too. We will simply get what everyone else is given. So many major centres are demanding EVs so we will continue to get more EV options. The iPace will be one of the most affordable for the short term but Nissan have also said their car will be in Australia next year. It won’t be long till all car companies follow. Policies of our governments will have zero effect on this. The Cars are now at the point where they are competitive with Petrol cars and so many major centres are banning Petrol car sales and changing extra for their entry to areas manufactures will have no choice.

    • Rob G

      Anyone who cares about renewables (and EVs) would vote Labor or Greens. Their record speaks for itself. Look at SA, a world leader thanks mainly to SA state Labor. ACT Labor have EV rollout for government vehicles and a massive switch to near 100$ renewable power. Call it propaganda, but their record speaks for itself. And vice-versa the Liberal record also speaks for itself. The previous Liberal VIC and QLD governments have a record of putting a wrecking ball through renewables. Currently Liberal NSW government is promising big on renewables but doing nothing, mere words. If you care about renewables you pretty much have to vote progressive. Wouldn’t Australia be better if both sides of politics got behind renewables (and EVs) like they do around the world? I do accept that EVs will get here in force despite the politics – but Canberra can speed it up or slow it down. Liberals slow it down.

      Final point, the claim of Labor propaganda fails to acknowledge the many times Josh Frydenberg has been interviewed here. Both sides of politics have been heard and now it’s time to look at the evidence and their policies. Frydenberg gets it, but is stuck in a party of numpties.

      • Rob BDR529

        With Labor and the Greens the chances of getting positive action on Renewables and EVs are higher, this doesn’t mean the public should just vote for them and expect instant action, as each state and federal election approaches the heat has to go on every politician, Left, Right or Green, it must be said that action is not just hoped for but is 100% expected in a fast and organized manner.

        • Rob G

          It might take a massive vote towards Labor and Greens to ‘wake-up’ the more conservative parties. To remove the ‘advantage’ of being pro EV and renewables they will need to get onboard. I expect that lesson is yet to happen for the LNP. In fact in the coming by-election, Georgina Downer (ex IPA and climate denier) has done an about face on renewables as she starts to understand her potential voters are pro-renewables. Remember climate denier Howard was going to price carbon in 2007, as his support was evaporating.

          • Rob BDR529

            But now Georgina Downer can’t get her “new” pro-renewables message across because she closed town Twitter and blocked everyone on Facebook who asked her opinion on climate change or renewables.

      • MaxG

        Yes… and it means the system, he partisan system is the problem. The socalled representatives have to vote according to the party songbook and not in the interest of the people they represent. The system is corrupt to the core. And the people are too dumb to realise, otherwise 50+% would not vote for them!

    • Peter G

      Hi Chris, All political parties have policy and form in energy which has been pretty well critiqued here for some years. RE’s coverage is consistent, and calls out the humbug, policy shortcomings, and poor form that we have seen by the Federal government. If he is supportive in this case perhaps it is because of Butler’s ambition to improve on the humbug and crap being delivered by the LNP.

      My local Holden dealer still has the Volt advertised on its sign – pity they never offered one for sale…

      • Chris Schneider

        We looked at buying a Volt, they were for sale but they were too expensive and lack the expected nice things of a car of that value. It was a car that didn’t fit the price range it was in. The Leaf is not that. As I said we lack EVs because until now they were two expensive for the range required for an Australian consumer. But there is about to be a wave of them.

        This is NOT an article critiquing the labour position this is an article taking it as fact “Don’t laugh. Cry. It’s a real possibility.” It makes grossly inaccurate assumption that can only be politically motivated.
        As I outlined, they are not going to make cars and dump them in Australia. We don’t have the population. Emissions in cars have been dropping in Australia the graph is miss leading and is more about the amount of cars. Diesel cars have had a resurgency because of grey nomads wanting to travel Australia. Is it shitty, yep but notice the decline in the others? That is where an important step in fuel efficiency is happening. If they wanted an accurate depiction they could have done a per km comparison.

        Reality as I have said is our market is not big enough to effect the decisions at Ford, GM, Toyota or Nissan. We will ride the wave the rest of the world puts out. The reason we don’t have large EVs percentages is Manufactures haven’t believe they have had an EV product that would sell in Australia because of our mileage. At the end of this year and the start of next year EVs will start to become a common seller in Australia.

        • MaxG
          • Chris Schneider

            Read it. sounds about right “dump” being in inverted commas means not actually dumping. becuase the reality is we would be less than a year behind the standards of eu or us as we have too smaller market to manufacture cars specifically to be shitty. it makes no sense. Only Cars made here… which is zero would possibly be non compliant but they where exported to Europe and US so would likely have been manufactured to those standards anyway.

        • Roger Brown

          Now they have the Bolt sedan/ hatch , all ev and big miles battery .

    • Roger Brown

      We don’t have a LaboUr Party in Australia , we do have Labor party .

  • Jacko

    The Govt could also solve its embarrassing problem of insufficient fuel storage to comply with international agreements by encouraging the sale of EVs. Less demand, less storage required.

  • Pixilico

    Attention right-wingers reading this:
    Innovation is the most capitalistic tool there’s ever been. Disruption is the essence of capitalism. There’s nothing left-wing about EVs.

  • N Page

    It’s almost like EVs are banned in Australia. How does nz get them so readily?

  • Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe

    The right likes comfortable legacy technology and despises progress in technology or in social progress. Bring back yesteryear social norms, this treating everyone as equals is pathetic…

  • Daroid Ungais 87

    Giles, you have a chronic inability to properly cite your sources. As a matter of courtesy, you shouldn’t just reproduce graphs from other people’s work without clearly stating where you got it … What TAI report are talking about? This one – http://www.tai.org.au/content/electric-vehicles-australia-report ??

  • Daroid Ungais 87

    > ” Australia is about the only OECD country in the world that has no emissions or fuel standards on its cars.”

    Where are you getting this from? We have vehicle emission and fuel standards. Do you mean CO2 emission standards?

  • Nick Kemp

    ““Sometimes I listen to the likes of Barnaby Joyce and other Coalition MPs who say things like they would rather die in a ditch on the side of road”

    Hope it happens soon

  • Matt_Grey

    I’m slightly right of Julius Evola and I think electric vehicles are a great idea.

  • Miles Harding

    Like the “Jurassic Park for cars”!

    To be fair to Cuba, the reason their car fleet is so old had a lot to do with McCarthyism, the cold war and the USA’s attempts to break their economy. Many sources, including Wikipedia, portray this as Fidel’s policy, ignoring the embargo from the USA.