Should Victoria adopt an electric vehicle target?

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Victoria Inquiry recommends number of ways state government could boost the uptake of EVs – but will this translate into policy?

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After over 12 months of work, three full days of public hearings from witnesses and more than one hundred written submissions from industry and the public, the joint Victorian upper house committee Inquiry into Electric Vehicles report has just been released.

Out of its 180-odd pages, section three is probably the one of most interest to the general public.

It is there that consideration is given to the forms of government support that could be offered to consumers who may be considering buying an electric vehicle.

Unsurprisingly, the introduction of section three states ‘Victorian consumers are interested in purchasing electric vehicles’, but before EV options are likely to become more available in Australia, ‘Car manufacturers seek a signal that the electric vehicle market will grow in Australia’.

Furthermore, in many places of the report is was acknowledged that Victoria is falling well behind the world (as well as many Australian states) in EV adoption support measures and preparations that would offer just such a signal.

It was even noted within the report that some Victorian local government regions have EV charging and fleet EV adoption strategies ahead of any Victorian state ones!

Given no state likes to feel that it is a laggard in setting policies that might encourage economic development (or that other states are swiping it from under their noses) it can be hoped that the report at least alerts the Victorian government to how far behind the eight ball it currently is.

So what did the committee think might work to support the uptake of EVs in Victoria? Quoting directly from their report:

There are a number of ways the Victorian Government could assist with the uptake of electric vehicles in the private market, namely by:

  • Establishing a State electric vehicle target
  • Reducing the upfront costs for consumers of electric vehicles in Victoria
  • Offering non‑financial incentives such as special vehicle lane access and parking privileges
  • Future-proofing Victoria by supporting the development of a comprehensive and reliable network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure

The next question is therefore: will anything come from these findings?

Sadly, while the body of the report (as well as many of its 27 findings) list the litany of ways that Victoria is falling behind in EV adoption strategies and preparations, as yet no concrete policies have even been hinted at by either of the major Victorian political parties.

It is worth noting however that the Greens party have done so, as detailed here.

On the other hand, a state election for Victoria is coming up this November. So perhaps with the release of this report, now is a good time for Victorian voters to show that smoothing the way for EVs has become a mainstream concern. (Especially as a whole variety of those reasons for concern are explicitly described in the report!)

Also, by contacting parliamentary representatives and candidates in enough numbers, it would be a gentle reminder to them that there are actually a lot of potential votes in adopting EV supportive policies.

Public disclaimer:

Bryce Gaton is a member of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) and is part of both the Victorian and national AEVA executive committees. He was also part of the team who put together the AEVA submission to the Victorian Inquiry into Electric Vehicles as well as one of the AEVA representatives who testified at the public hearings of the inquiry.

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14 Comments
  1. George Darroch 4 months ago

    Yes.

  2. Gyrogordini 4 months ago

    Great work, again, Bryce! One constantly wonders why it is so hard to get this message across. IF there was a better range of vehicles; IF there was more charging infrastructure; IF new vehicles were cheaper; IF we had leadership from the Federal gomint; IF the other States looked at what the ACT is doing; IF there were more second hand ones…

    • Ian 4 months ago

      Not so iffing good is it? Imagine a game with two sides.
      On the one hand are the manufacturers. They say “ Buy lots of our EV’s and we will make them better and cheaper”
      On the other hand are the customers. They say” Sell us good EV’s at a cheap price and we will buy lots of them”

      Impasse.

      You either need a number of brave and generous patrons to get through this gulf of confidence, or you need government support. That’s what we are asking for: Government support. Let’s get this EV transition going already!

  3. Joe 4 months ago

    To kick start affairs Victoria could follow the ACT in changing over the states car fleet to EV’s.

  4. Chris Jones 4 months ago

    Fleet purchase of EVs by government departments has to be the easiest and fairest way of directly supporting the EV transition. They will enter the second hand market as affordable near-new vehicles while the government can buy the latest EVs in the next round. Sweeteners like reduces rego, dropped stamp duty etc will all help, but the cost of entry needs to be addressed somehow. Of course, supporting charging infrastructure roll-outs would be good, too.

    • George Darroch 4 months ago

      Well said. There’s nothing like actually purchasing cars to make them electric. If they were to aim for 70% electric purchases of light vehicles within two years, they would be quite a long way there. If this was supported by a statewide network of fast chargers in regional and rural Victoria there would be little reason for range anxiety, even among those vehicles doing larger distances.

  5. Ken Dyer 4 months ago

    Is there any point in targets when there are no affordable electric cars currently in Australia? They are coming though.
    Every time I fill up my small SUV diesel, I curse the cost of dirty fossil fuels. Out of every $1.50+ litre I put in my tank. 65 cents in fuel excise and GST goes to the Government. Do you think government, especially the LNP COALition is serious about EV’s?
    I do not think so.

    • George Darroch 4 months ago

      There’s the Leaf right now. By the end of the year there should be the vastly improved new Leaf, the Ioniq, and the Kona.

      • MacNordic 4 months ago

        Looks as if Hyundai is “somewhat” overwhelmed& stopped taking orders for MY18 BEVs:
        https://electrek.co/2018/05/08/hyundai-ioniq-electric-battery-shortage-limiting-production/

        At a (global!) production rate of 1800 Ioniqs per MONTH no real wonder… I do not see the Hyundais making it to Australia this year, to be honest…

        • Kevfromspace 4 months ago

          A representative from Hyundai at the Smart Energy conference told me that the Ioniq (BEV, PHEV and HEV) should all be in Australia by the end of July 2018. It shocked me, but I guess time will tell!

          • MacNordic 4 months ago

            Lets hope for the best!

        • George Darroch 4 months ago

          Yeah, there’s that thing where companies put resources and marketing into these vehicles and then have no plan for actually making and selling them. It’s immensely disappointing, and I thought Hyundai would do a better job than Ford/GM/VW etc.

      • Ken Dyer 4 months ago
  6. Ian 4 months ago

    Besides the replacement of the bus fleet, and the government vehicle fleet to electric, and non-financial support for private EV, like preferential lanes, and parking, free charging stations, near-free rego, and removal of import duties, luxury tax and VAT – these should be the baseline measures taken., Subsidies for electric vehicles should be considered. These can be well designed, and subject to frequent review and revision, but they should be very generous to start with. Even if these were overly generous initially , there would not be the vehicle numbers produced in the world to overwhelm a subsidy scheme.

    If the Victorian government wanted a figure for a scheme of direct subsidies on purchase price, an amount of $100 million a year would set the ball rolling. A sliding scale of subsidy would be a simple method. For instance $10 000 a car in year one, $8000 in year two , $6000 in year three etc. if they did this, and demonstrated other measures, manufacturers will certainly take the bait and offer their EV’s here.

    A generous subsidy will encourage initial uptake and sales, and a reducing subsidy will 1. Follow the downward trend in prices and 2, discourage price gouging by manufacturers.

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