Electric Vehicles in Australia

There are currently 32 different models of electric passenger cars available in the Australian market, with leading mainstream car manufacturers such as BMW, Audi, Mini and Range Rover joining the pioneering Tesla in supplying electric vehicles (EV’s) across the nation.

While the current sales volumes of EVs are modest — there were just 6, 900 EVs sold in 2020 across Australia — there is no denying the imminent ground swell of Electric Vehicles’ adoption is on the horizon.

In 2020, there was an estimated 10 million EVs on roads across the globe, which was a doubling from 2017 (5 million). China is the leading consumer of EVs with almost half of all EVs sold globally since 2010 — considered the starting point for measuring EV take-up.

The Electric Vehicle Council of Australia note that in 2015 one million EVs were sold worldwide, but the rapid uptake trajectory saw that in August 2018, four million EVs had been sold for the calendar year to date, with one million of these purchased in the previous six months alone.

Certain European countries have seen seismic shifts in consumer preferences, with Norway recording that 50% of all new cars sold in 2018 were EVs. In aggregate, Europe accounts for the second largest EV pool with around 3.2 million EVs, followed by the US with 1.7 million EVs.

EV uptake in Europe has been bolstered by government support and incentives, with uptake expected to increase sharply in the coming years due to the EU’s combined EV target, which is equivalent to around 12 million EVs on the road by 2023.

Government policy support for EVs has not been as evident in Australia to date, however there are various green shoots of policy and regulatory reform, which is encouraging and may help to fuel a wholesale upswell in EV uptake across the nation.

There are two major types of EVs available:

1) Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) — powered entirely by a rechargeable electric battery.

2) Plug In Electric Vehicle (PHEV) — a hybrid or dual power system comprising a traditional fuel engine alongside a rechargeable electric battery.

BEVs has powered the growth in global uptake over the last three years, particularly in China where 80% of the market is comprised of BEVs. In contrast, Europe features a far greater preference for PHEVs with 47% of all EVs on the road in 2020.

Nissan Battery Electric Vehicle

Nissan Battery Electric Vehicle

@nissan

The lack of access to charging stations has been identified by the Australian motoring public as a key barrier to the adoption of EVs. The independent government advisory body, Infrastructure Australia (IA) notes that while there has been an increase in charging stations since 2018, there are currently less than 2,500 public charging stations across Australia, with only 350 of those being fast charging.

IA summarise that the development of a more comprehensive network of fast-charging stations with good proximity to the national highway will help to obviate the ‘access to charging facility’ uptake hesitancy barrier which will reduce consumer anxiety about EV range.

With on-going improvements in EV technology galloping forward, the distance that vehicles can travel on a single charge will continue to improve, and conversely EV pricing (another key barrier to adoption) will reduce as production scale increases and the cost of batteries reduces.

Sitting alongside the ambition to develop a more comprehensive network of fast-charging stations, Infrastructure Australia also calls for national policies and appropriate regulation to support charging technology adoption. There is also a need for complementary investment in network infrastructure to ensure that electricity generation and the distribution network can provide reliable and consistent electricity supply for additional electric vehicle charges.

In Western Australia the RAC Electric Highway, which stretches from Perth to the South-West region, is the first integrated electric highway in Australia. It comprises of 15 charging stations and is part of Charefox, Australia’s largest EV charging network. This system requires a simple download of the free Chargefox app to gain access to the charging stations.

This user friendly and low barrier to entry system is a prototype of an integrated charging station network that Australia will need to see developed many times over across the country by 2040. At this time, EVs will comprise of at least 30% of the vehicle fleet and 70% — 100% of new vehicle sales.

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) is the hardware that supplies electrical energy to charge an EV battery. The main line electricity grid delivers AC (alternating current), but EVs charge their batteries with DC (direct current). All contemporary EVs have an onboard charger to convert AC power to DC.

When an EV uses an AC power supply for charging, it must convert the power supply from AC to DC via that on-board charger, which defines and limits how fast the vehicle can be charged. CLF Services are able to install an AC based charging unit in your home or business. Most EVs currently on the market are capable of accepting only 7kW even when connected to a 22kW charger. This is because the onboard charger limits the utilisation of the charger and the power supply.

When an EV uses a DC power supply for charging, the charger converts the AC power to DC and therefore the current can bypass the onboard charger and deliver the power supply directly to the battery. Most EVs on the market today are capable of accepting 100 kW, with the market leaders capable of 250kW.

Compared to AC chargers, DC chargers are more complicated and complex in both design and cost. In order to deliver the high power required for fast charging, they demand heavy duty electrical systems and grid connections, which means upgrades to the electrical infrastructure at site might be necessary.

The type of charging equipment selected needs to be site specific, with the following types of site dictating the charger type:

· Indoor/outdoor — Outdoor chargers must meet design standards for weather proofing and impact damage.

· Tethered/untethered — Tethered chargers have a permanently fixed charging cable/connector. They are more convenient for drivers but are vulnerable to vandalism and may present a trip hazard.

· Mount — Chargers must be positioned at a convenient height and can be wall or pedestal mounted. Chargers require electrical supply via ceiling or subterranean conduits. Subterranean conduits may require expensive trenching/tunnelling, particularly for retrofits.

CLF Services are able to make recommendations on the charging equipment that would best suit your needs.

The Electrical Vehicle Council state that Corporate and government fleets have the potential to drive the EV revolution in Australia, making up 52% of annual new vehicle sales. Corporate and government fleet commitments to electrification is important as it demonstrates vehicle demand to carmakers and are an important supply to the second-hand market, providing the impetus for the roll-out of charging infrastructure.

EVs have an important role to play in lowering emissions also, with many government’s developing zero emissions vehicle strategies to help power the conversion of the active fleet to electric. Once sold, vehicles stay on the road for an average of 15–17 years. Given this timeframe, in order for net-zero emissions to met by 2050, emissions target policy must accelerate uptake immediately, and will be essential to government climate change transition strategies — a critical pathway to a clean growth economy.

Despite heightened uptake of EVs over recent years, uptake is still well below target growth estimates. The lack of formative electric vehicle policy in Australia continues to hamper EV uptake. This is despite fuel efficiency standards and financial incentives being recognised as the most effective means to encourage uptake of EVs. The Electric Vehicle Council of Australia notes that no successful EV market exists globally without having provided financial incentives to power the upfront cost for consumers.

In summary, electric vehicles bring a variety of benefits to the markets that encourage them:

· Environmental — carbon emission reductions will reduce the impacts of climate change and the associated extreme weather events and biodiversity degradation.

· Health — The EVC conducted research with Asthma Australia which found that in NSW 60% more people die from vehicle emissions than car crashes. Additionally, each EV on QLD roads saves approximately $2,400 in health costs. By moving to zero emissions, we will improve air quality, save lives and put money back into the health sector.

· Economic — electric vehicles powered by renewable energy will create new jobs and industries to support Australians in regional and metropolitan areas. Individuals and companies will save money from reduced fuel and maintenance costs from more efficient vehicles.

An integrated approach supported by far-sighted and well targeted policy interventions will see Australia capitalise on its renewable energy generation, low carbon industries, critical minerals supply, skilled workforce, research industry and innovative manufacturing sector.

Australia is well placed to benefit from an accelerated approach to the electric vehicle transition. Contact CLF Services to discuss your electric vehicle charging needs.