Electric vehicle buyers nearly doubled in 2022, but Australia still lags behind

by Sophie Berrill
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electric vehicle

The electric vehicle (EV) industry is growing in Australia, according to a new report from its national peak body. But more has to be done if we want to catch up to the global average.

The Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) has released a new report recapping an “action-packed year” for the EV market in Australia. 

Highlights from the report 

The report found that there were more than 83,000 electric vehicles on Australian roads in 2022, up 86 percent on 2021. Among all new cars purchased last year, EVs made up 3.8 percent. 

All Australian federal, state and territory governments now actively support the uptake of EVs through different policies and incentives. 

The New South Wales state government is currently leading the way on charging stations – at a total of 715 – due to “excellent” policy and grants programs. Across the nation, the number of charging sites roughly doubled over the past three years, but the report says further effort is still required to meet the demand of the ever expanding local EV fleet.

On a Federal level, the Government introduced the Electric Car Discount in July 2022. This  provided a fringe-benefits tax exemption to support the rapid uptake of electric vehicles. The range of EV models purchased during 2022 also expanded, with a total of 70 different EV models delivered to the Australian market.

Another major milestone for the Federal Government was the development of the first National Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy, designed to boost the affordability, supply and uptake of EVs in Australia. The strategy is still in development, and submissions from the consultation process were recently published.

The roadblocks to more EVs in Australia

In the submissions to the strategy, and the EVC’s recap, the industry sentiment seems to be similar: Australia needs a mandatory Fuel Efficiency Standard.

“The number one barrier to getting more EVs onto Australian roads today is the low supply of EVs to our market,” explains the EVC’s report. 

“There are 100s of EV models available overseas, and yet only are [sic] fraction of these are being supplied to Australia. Australia is not receiving more EVs mainly because we do not have a regulation called a Fuel Efficiency Standard.” 

Fuel efficiency standards set an average efficiency target for vehicles sold by each manufacturer, based on the tailpipe emissions. If manufacturers don’t meet these targets, they risk paying large penalties to the government.  

To minimise the chance of paying a penalty, car makers need to sell more fuel-efficient vehicles, particularly zero emission vehicles like EVs, to reduce the average tailpipe emissions of all the new vehicles that they sell.

Countries that have a fuel efficiency standard are prioritised for the supply of electric vehicles, says the EVC. Countries that don’t have a mandatory fuel efficiency standard – like Australia – are at the back of the queue. 

The Government has confirmed fuel efficiency standards are on the agenda for the National Electric Vehicle Strategy, and that consultation would help them determine whether standards could help improve the supply of new electric vehicles into the Australian market and lower transport emissions.

For more on how EVs could impact FMs, read about a study that found vehicle-to-grid charging could boost energy storage.

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