The Electric Vehicle Council is now 'on the map' in Australia, thanks to a heavily reported launch event this week in Canberra and the provision of a $390,000 federal grant to member organisation ClimateWorks.
The council is a national, independent advocate body, formed in 2016 through a tie-up of the smaller ACT EV Council and related parties.
Made up of representatives from Australia's academic, industry and corporate sectors, the council's members include energy companies AGL, Synergy and TransGrid; automotive brands Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Tesla and Volkswagen; infrastructure and fleet businesses JET Charge and Lennock Fleet; not-for-profit ClimateWorks Australia; project engineering firm ITP Renewables and insurer RACV.
Notably absent from that list are Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, the former a pioneering player in the green-car market and the latter making a major push to introduce more electrified vehicles now and in the years ahead. CarAdvice has sought comment from both, but only Toyota had offered comment at the time of publishing.
"Whilst we don’t offer either a plug-in or full-electric offering in Australia, globally, Toyota have a diverse array of drivetrain solutions either in market, or under evaluation, (including Petrol-electric Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, EV, Fuel Cell and of course, internal combustion engines), a spokesperson for the company said.
"We also have a selection of fully-electric urban mobility vehicles such as the i-Road concept involved in trials around the globe."
It appears that, for Toyota at least, not all companies in the EV market are eager to combine their efforts with other manufacturers.
Above: Vehicles from the supporting brands; top: Minister Paul Fletcher.
As for the nearly $400,000 Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) grant announced this week by Minister for Energy and Environment, Josh Frydenberg, the EV Council says it will be used to promote the benefits of electrified vehicles to fleet and private buyers.
Scott Ferraro, Electric Vehicle Council secretary and ClimateWorks Australia's head of implementation, said the grant will support an education and engagement program designed to improve awareness of the benefits presented by EVs.
“Globally, the number of electric vehicles sold annually is growing rapidly. However in 2014, electric vehicle sales accounted for just 0.1 per cent of new cars sold in Australia,” he said.
‘This funding will enable us to work with the Electric Vehicle Council to provide more information about electric vehicles to Australian consumers and undertake research on the best policies to drive greater uptake of electric vehicles, particularly at the early stages in order to increase model choice and infrastructure.
“The council will also publish a state of electric vehicles report annually so we can monitor progress on the transition of the Australian fleet.”
The grant is not enough on its own to drive major improvements to Australia's EV affordability and infrastructure, but with increased awareness could come greater public pressure on government to take action.
The Electric Vehicle Council’s Chair, Behyad Jafari, said that as other industrialised markets begin to embrace EVs, Australia is being left behind.
“While the global industry grows exponentially each year, Australia continues to miss out. In the next twelve months, almost one million electric vehicles are projected to be sold, with more than $50 billion invested in the industry over the last 10 years,” he said.
“Addressing the barriers preventing the mass uptake of electric vehicles in Australia requires a consistent and collaborative effort across a range of sectors.
Jafari urged action on improving the landscape for EVs in Australia, including policy for driving uptake through subsidies and other incentives, described as a short-term step "as the technology works to meet price parity". Exempting EVs from the fringe benefits tax, for example, would cut some $8000 from the cost of entry for buyers.
He added that a roadmap also needs to be established for national public charging infrastructure, with most of Australia's public points currently limited to 'level 2' outputs that force long waits.
“We welcome others from across industry, consumer groups and government to join the Electric Vehicle Council as we work to build and provide certainty for investment in the Australian electric vehicle industry.”
Learn more about the Electric Vehicle Council at electricvehiclecouncil.com.au.
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