Electric vehicles (EVs) are at the forefront of a major
transformation of the world's transport sector. Global EV sales are growing
rapidly, driven by government policy in large consumer markets in Europe, Asia
and North America. Vehicle manufacturers are leading the transition, investing
heavily to expand their EV offerings and improve EV driving range and
performance. The technological disruption is also providing opportunities for
new business models and companies to emerge.
EV uptake in Australia lags behind that of other comparable
countries due to a relative absence of overarching policy direction from
Australian Governments. The higher upfront cost of EVs, concerns about driving
range, lack of recharging infrastructure, and limited model availability are
key factors hindering consumer uptake.
In the Committee's view, widespread use of EVs in the
Australian transportation fleet would deliver significant economic,
environmental and health benefits to Australian consumers and society. It would
also create new opportunities for Australian industry. There would be
challenges associated with increasing EV uptake, but they can be managed with
well calibrated regulatory settings.
The Committee heard evidence that traditional automotive
businesses are already pursuing opportunities in EV component manufacturing and
assembly. New industries, such as charging infrastructure manufacturing and
installation, battery manufacturing, recycling, repurposing and related mining
and processing activities, and EV research and development are also emerging as
growth sectors for the Australian economy.
The Committee received a wealth of information and evidence
throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated. The Committee has
made 17 recommendations which aim to help Australia accelerate EV uptake, while
also managing the risks, and support Australian industry to capitalise on the
significant opportunities presented by a transition to EVs.
Australian Governments should prioritise the development of
a national EV strategy and an inter-governmental taskforce to lead its
implementation. National EV sales targets could be set to deliver certainty to
business and consumers, and careful examination should be given to policies
that may be introduced to reduce the upfront cost of EVs and improve their
price competitiveness with internal combustion engine vehicles.
The Australian Government should set EV targets for the
Australian Government Fleet and work with state and local government to
coordinate fleet procurement. It should partner with business to manage and
facilitate the roll out of charging infrastructure, establish consistent
national standards, and ensure new developments and the electricity grid are 'EV
charger ready'. Government could actively assist industry to develop its
domestic EV manufacturing and supply and value-chain capabilities.
In the absence of appropriate regulatory settings, Australia's
near term EV uptake is likely to be modest. Slow uptake will continue to result
in EV manufacturers not prioritising the Australian market and fewer EV models
being available to Australian motorists. It will also delay the realisation of
substantial economic, environmental and health benefits, and risk seeing
opportunities for economic development pass by.
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