The global electric vehicle market continues to grow exponentially, stimulating further industry investment. Due to its unique position in the electric vehicle supply chain, Australia has a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop a robust domestic industry, creating career opportunities for years to come.
Our lack of national co-ordination and support has resulted in stagnant uptake and restricted some of this potential. While 2.1 million electric vehicles were sold globally in 2018, Australia lagged behind with 2,216 sales in the same year. Encouragingly, 2019 has seen a rebound with electric vehicle sales figures for the first half of the year 90% higher than for the same period in 2018.
Consumer choice is also increasing with the number of electric vehicle models available in Australia expected to jump from 22 as of August 2019 to 31 by the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, the availability of public charging infrastructure has increased by over 140% in the last year and by 400% since 2017. The national network now comprises 1,930 electric vehicle charging stations.
Consumer awareness and attitudes to electric vehicles continue to improve according to a survey of 1,939 Australians undertaken for this report. In the 2017 State of Electric Vehicles report, 19% of those surveyed said they had done some research into electric vehicles while this year that number had more than doubled to 45%. Indeed, 51% of those surveyed said they would consider purchasing an electric vehicle or were currently researching electric vehicles with an intention to buy.
When asked about price, 69% of respondents indicated they would be willing to buy an electric vehicle if they had the same upfront price as fossil fuel equivalents. The proportion of people willing to pay more upfront for an electric vehicle increased from 4% last year to 7% this year, suggesting a greater appreciation for the advantages of electric vehicles. Consumers’ primary concerns continued to be range and price, while the most popular government policies were public charging infrastructure, price subsidies, and home charging discounts. The majority of respondents said that if they owned an electric vehicle, they would power it using renewable energy.
This report also highlights the important role of corporate and government fleet procurement in facilitating a rapid transition to electrification. Fleets make up 52% of new vehicle sales and serve as an important source to the second-hand market. Through their co-ordinated purchasing power, fleet transition plans also serve to demonstrate demand to vehicle suppliers and the public charging infrastructure industry.
With significant mineral resources and a highly skilled workforce, Australia could benefit economically at every stage of the electric vehicle supply chain. Numerous Australian innovators are already succeeding locally and overseas. Increasing the domestic electric vehicle market has the potential to reinvigorate automotive manufacturing in Australia and create tens of thousands of jobs in new adjacent industries.
Australia continues to have no national electric vehicle policy, despite such policy being instrumental to the success of markets with strong electric vehicle adoption rates. While the Federal Government is currently developing a strategy due for completion in mid-2020, it is more important than ever that this strategy is supplemented by strong policies by state and territory governments.