Short headlamps of incoming torrent of cars on multi lane Warringah freeway going across the city of Sydney, , generic Sydney trafficCredit: ShutterstockThe global electric car revolution is coming to , Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has declared, likening the scale of technological disruption to the introduction of the iPhone.
In an interview and opinion piece for Fairfax Media, he said three barriers to electric vehicle uptake in – high purchase prices, limited driving range and a lack of charging infrastructure – are on their way to being solved.
This includes an expected price drop for electric vehicles to around that of conventional vehicles by 2025.
But Mr Frydenberg stopped short of committing to more federal government action to support electric vehicle growth. This is despite official data showing transport activity, mostly from cars and light vehicles, will drive ‘s greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.
is an international laggard on electric vehicles. There are 4000 electric vehicles on the nation’s roads, equating to a minuscule 0.1 per cent of new vehicle sales.
In contrast, Mr Frydenberg pointed to Norway, where electric vehicles make up more than 20 percent of new sales, and China where the figure is expected to reach 30 per cent by 2030.
“A global revolution in electric vehicles is underway and with the right preparation, planning and policies, n consumers are set to be the big beneficiaries,” he wrote.
“Technology is transforming our lives at a rapid rate with no sector immune from its impact,” he said, pointing to the iPhone in communications, the cloud in data management and renewables and storage in the energy sector.
Electric vehicles were “another area of exciting technological disruption with real economic and environmental benefits”.
Despite expected price parity by 2025, official projections released last month said electric vehicles would still comprise just 4 per cent of the national vehicle fleet by 2030.
A federally funded ClimateWorks study released in June last year said strong government policy could address barriers to uptake, including the adoption of light vehicle emissions standards.
Labor says it would enforce such standards if it won power and is developing a policy to cut carbon pollution from transport. Labor’s energy spokesman Mark Butler this week accused the government of having “no policy for the take-up of electric vehicles”.
Other measures proposed by electric car advocates include tax exemptions, rebates on charging stations, subsidies to reduce upfront purchase costs, allowing electric vehicles to travel in bus lanes and targets for the number of electric vehicles in government car fleets.
In an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Frydenberg would not commit to adopting such measures, pointing to existing incentives such as a discount on the luxury car tax threshold for low emission vehicles, and carbon credit units for companies that transition their fleets to electric vehicles.
However the government was “happy to hear from the industry” about possible further changes, he said, adding that state-federal coordination was critical to increasing uptake.
In his opinion piece, Mr Frydenberg said 13 of the 16 electric vehicle models on sale in were priced at over $60,000.
But the next generation Tesla would sell for less than half this, and the purchase of more electric cars in high-turnover fleets meant “the range of second hand electric vehicles is also likely to increase exponentially”.
Mr Frydenberg said Chevrolet and Renault models already travel around 350 kilometres on a single charge and Chief Scientist Alan Finkel had predicted that by 2025, some electric vehicles may be able to travel 1000 kilometres without recharging.
He said ‘s 476 public charging stations “will quickly grow over time”, pointing to states such as Queensland, where the state government is creating a “super highway” of charging stations, and NSW where the NRMA is building 40 fast charging stations.
Greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuel use have risen steadily over the past 25 years as growth in transport activity outstripped improvements in efficiency.
Official projections released last month said transport activity linked to population and economic growth would be a main driver of ‘s greenhouse gas emissions to 2030.
Cars and light commercial vehicles are expected to continue as the largest source of transport pollution. It means their emissions must urgently be slashed if is to curb its greenhouse gas output and meet its climate action obligations under the Paris deal.