'It's just a group of people who need to get out of their own way'
Behyad Jafari, CEO of Australia's EV Council, has lamented the partisan nature of the electric vehicle conversation Down Under, and called for Federal Government support to kickstart the market.
Speaking with CarAdvice this week, Jafari said international investors are "stumped" when they realise Australia hasn't taken proper action on electric vehicles, and argued the issue "isn't really contentious anywhere else".
"When we look at electric vehicles right around the world, they're being supported by governments because they provide societal and economy-wide benefits," he said.
Jafari said the Federal Government has shown an interest in driving electric vehicle growth, but the process of getting things done is a bit like riding a "rollercoaster".
"Reality is, the issue we're talking about... requires a level of ambition, and requires people who will push the issue forward and get the work done, and that just seems to be something that – unfortunately with this issue – the Government starts walking and then falls over and then stops altogether," Jafari explained.
"That's usually because of some internal fighting about the issue, right. We saw this happen earlier this year, when the Government said 'electric vehicles are great, they're gonna be the future' and people from their own side attacked them for it."
"That's what keeps stumbling them over... It's just a group of people who need to get out of their own way, and also it is a big transition. We're not talking about anything small. We're talking about a pretty large technological transition that'll drive our roads and transport systems for centuries to come," he added.
Josh Frydenberg, Federal Minister for Energy and the Environment, used an opinion piece published in Fairfax papers this January to declare "the electric car revolution is nigh". We contacted the minister for further comments, but didn't receive a response in time to publish. We'll update the story if he does get back.
"Australian surveys show that about half the people in the market for a new car are prepared to consider purchasing an electric vehicle with many investigating it," Frydenberg wrote.
"But what holds them back are issues relating to price, range and infrastructure. But on each count, there are good things happening, with more to come," referencing the upcoming onslaught of lower-cost electric vehicles, and the fact ex-government and fleet electric vehicles will soon be hitting the second hand market.
More is required in the eyes of the EV Council, with Jafari calling for "that leadership, that ambition, and the people who are willing to do the sustained work in government" required to make electric vehicles more accessible.
As for what that leadership might look like, and what support is required, greater incentives for buyers are right at the top of the list.
"The most impactful way to do [support] is by incentivising people purchasing a new car to an electric alternative" Jafari argued.
"What that really does is, most directly, it obviously gives a cost incentive to the consumer, but much more importantly, it sends a signal to the marketplace to say that we are getting ready to support electrification, and we're going on the same journey the rest of the world has been on for seven or eight years now."