Slow EV adoption in Australia at odds with the rest of Asia Pacific

Following the release of new data showing EV sales are surging in China, there’s concern over the inaction on EV policy from the Government of one other major Asia Pacific economy.

When it comes to EV sales, Australia is lagging the world. EVs currently account for only around 0.7% of new car sales in Australia, while a recent study found 39% of Australians would not consider buying an EV for their next car purchase.

In Australia, new roads are being built with not any, or very little, EV infrastructure planning and there are no incentives close to what’s on offer in other parts of the world.

For example, in China, consumers currently receive a US$2,791 subsidy when purchasing a new energy vehicle with a range of over 400 kilometers.

In recent years, China has also rolled out thousands of roadside EV charging stations across the country.

The Australian Electric Vehicle Council is now calling on Australia’s federal government to “urgently” introduce policies to accelerate EV adoption and help Australia meet United Nations greenhouse gas emissions targets.

The Electric Vehicle Council’s chief executive Behyad Jafari said there were a range of proven measures the federal government could take to support EV adoption in Australia.

“Accelerating Australia’s inevitable transition to superior electric vehicles is the most straightforward way the federal government can act now to drive down emissions. All it needs to do is look at our friends around the world and follow suit,” Jafari said.

“Given the average lifespan of cars, net zero by 2050 means all cars sold will need to be zero-emissions no later than 2035. We are nowhere near on track for that currently. But we know what we have to do, because the rest of the world is doing it.

“The obvious place for Australia to start is to introduce long-overdue fuel efficiency standards, like the ones the US and the EU have had for decades. As things stand global car makers have little incentive to bring their most popular and affordable EV models to Australia, because it makes more sense to promote them in American and European markets.

“Australia is among the few developed countries on earth where it makes no difference to a car makers whether they sell a dirty, high-emission car or a zero-exhaust alternative. As a result we’re now a global dumping ground for high-exhaust vehicles that can’t be shifted elsewhere.

“The next obvious change would be to offer clear incentives to consumers to select an EV instead of a carbon-emitting alternative. There’s a range of ways the government could approach this, from direct subsidies, to cashback schemes, to tax reduction.

“The federal government could also do much to encourage uptake by boosting the roll out of public charging infrastructure and introducing policies to ensure charging options are available in every home.

“If the federal government changes course and gets behind EVs now, we won’t just drive down emissions, we’ll encourage huge investment in our EV sector. There is no reason Australia cannot be an important part of the EV global supply chain, but we need a strong local market to spur that investment on.”

Transport is the third largest source of Australia’s total carbon emissions.

The International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) estimates that, by 2025, one fifth of vehicles in Southeast Asia will be electric, with Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam leading the charge.

Elsewhere in the Asia region. China, India, Japan and South Korea have all introduced major initiatives to encourage EV adoption and technological innovation in recent years.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Asia Markets to receive exclusive subscriber-only content delivered to your inbox for free. Sign up here.