Design consultant Arcadis has mapped how far Australia lags behind other countries in its support for electric vehicles (EVs).

The report Global Electric Vehicle Catalyst Index 2021 ranked 12 countries including Australia in three criteria: government leadership and incentives, EV market maturity and EV charging infrastructure.

Australia’s performance was the only jurisdiction assessed as poor (on a four-point scale from poor to excellent) in each category.

The research comes after the lukewarm reception of the federal government’s Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy report covering its plans for EVs.

The government has pledged to fund charging stations for 50,000 homes, 400 businesses and 1000 public stations but is sketchy how it is going to achieve these figures and there are no plans to make EVs cheaper or more accessible and no targets to reduce vehicle emissions, an issue other countries are making central to their policies.

The report ranked Australia last on government leadership and incentives.

Arcadis’ mobility global president Greg Steele – who is based in Australia – said while the November government report would likely lift its leadership ranking, there was a lot of room for improvement.

“Recent announcements aside, the EV Catalyst Index underlines how much ground Australia has to make up in the transition away from petrol and diesel cars,” Mr Steele said.

“It starts at the top – most governments around the world see the future is EV and that’s reflected in the policy mix, with subsidies or incentives for EV purchases and regulations like fuel emission standards that make petrol and diesel cars less attractive.

 “Other countries are also much closer to the critical mass of EV market penetration and charging infrastructure that accelerates the transition. That encourages car manufacturers to make more EV models available to consumers.

“Unfortunately, Australia lacks those catalyst factors at present. A key issue is a lack of policy cohesion.”

Adding to that lack of cohesion is the variety of state-based subsidies and tax concessions ranging from stamp duty exemptions, cuts in registration fees and subsidies to WA which has no incentives at all. And while Victorians can claim a $3000 subsidy on vehicles costing less than $68,740 and a lower rate of stamp duty it also has a road user charge  2-2.5 cents per kilometre for EVs. New South Wales and South Australia plan to set an EV road user charge in 2027.

“Without a clear policy framework to encourage the transition to EVs there is little incentive to shift from petrol and diesel and EVs will remain expensive,” Mr Steele said.

“The opportunity is for the federal government to lead a co-ordinated national approach that triggers the virtuous cycle – with EV policy leading to EV market maturity and infrastructure.

“Maintaining the policy impetus and bringing incentives into the mix, could see Australia quickly put itself on the map as an attractive destination for EV makers.”  

The federal government has ruled out any subsidies for new car buyers, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison stating that: “I trust Australians that when they are presented with good options at good prices — they’ll make good choices.”

China and the UK ranked highest in the category of government leadership and incentives (average score 3.75), Netherlands ranked highest in EV market maturity (average score 3.25) and China ranked highest for EV charging infrastructure (average score 3.5).

According to the study, in Australia there are currently 10 EVs per public charge point and 30 EV models available, and there will be an estimated 20 EVs per 1000 people in 2030.

By contrast, Netherlands has 6.8 EVs per charge point and 183 EV models available and estimates there will be 60 EVs per 1000 people in 2025. In China, where there are 6.1 EVs per charge point and 390 models available currently, the forecast is for an estimated 20 EV per 1000 people in 2025.

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