The Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles has called for a firm national electric vehicle sales target and tighter emissions standards to drive adoption of battery-powered vehicles in Australia.
Most prominently, the report calls for national EV targets for "light passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles and metropolitan buses", as a way to demonstrate a firm commitment to accelerating electric uptake in Australia.
"The Committee is hopeful that the initial targets will provide the momentum required to increase EV sales to a point such that targets will no longer be required. Targets will also bolster the business case for expanding domestic EV manufacturing and supply chain activities," the report says, echoing sentiments previously expressed to CarAdvice by Behyad Jafari, Electric Vehicle Council CEO.
Along with a broad, nationwide sales target, the report calls for Government fleet targets on electric vehicles. The recommendation that would most directly impact manufacturers, though, is a call for more stringent vehicle emissions standards, inspired by the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions.
"With a federal election looming, both major parties have the opportunity to embrace these recommendations as part of their platform," Behyad Jafari, EV Council CEO, said in a statement.
"A bold approach would greatly improve the lives of all Australians, especially in our major cities."
Although his interest in electric adoption is clear, Jafari wasn't alone in trumpeting the benefits of electric vehicles. He also wasn't alone in describing Australia as backwards – "the world's laggard" to be precise – when it comes to adoption.
Even the report's Executive Summary said "EV uptake in Australia lags behind that of other comparable countries due to a relative absence of overarching policy direction" from the Federal and State Governments.
Should we fail to take action, the report says a lack of "appropriate regulatory settings" will make local electric uptake "modest" at best.
"It will also delay the realisation of substantial economic, environmental and health benefits, and risk seeing opportunities for economic development pass by," the report says.
All the regulation in the world won't help electric vehicles if the public doesn't trust them, which is why the report calls for an education campaign surrounding the technology. It also calls for collaboration between Federal and State Governments to bring a Formula E race Down Under.
Not everyone is satisfied with the report's recommendations. Australian Greens transport spokesperson Janet Rice today described the recommendations as "weak" and "feeble".
"Both major parties say the right words about electric vehicles when it suits them, but when it comes to actually getting behind policies and incentives that will support electric vehicle uptake they are missing in action,” she said.
Rice, who was a member of the committee, was behind last year's ambitious proposal for a ban on petrol and diesel sales by 2030.
It's worth mentioning, the senator was vague on a number of details about how a world without internal-combustion sales would look – her answer about how that would look for light-commercial drivers, for example, was merely to suggest hydrogen technology and infrastructure is expected, maybe, to improve over the coming years.