The future is here and developed countries have taken the lead in ‘green industrial revolution’ by embracing Electronic Vehicles (EV) revolution.  Much of the innovations undertaken today by major automakers are centered on electric power. Electric cars are here to stay, but Australia is lagging behind in the shift to electric vehicles.

Australia has one of the highest per capita CO2 emissions in the world. Compared to China (28%), USA (15%) and India (7%) that make up half of the world’s total CO2 emissions, Australia accounts for 1% of the total emissions. For a country with as little population as Australia, the emissions are quite high as indicated on the per capita CO2 emissions.

Australia is among the developed countries that lacks a carbon emissions scheme resulting to more pollution compared to other developed countries. With the country’s vehicle emissions being a record high, embracing electric car technology is crucial to lower the country’s carbon footprint. However, Australia has one of the lowest penetrations of electric vehicles in the developed world.

Looking at EVs sales as of 2019, the total sales of EVs in Australia is around 0.6% of the total vehicle sales while countries such as China, Germany, UK and USA recorded 5%, 3%, 2.9% and 2.1% respectively. As Australia continues to lag behind in EV penetration, the rest of the developed world is making plans to phase out the sale of liquid fuel cars by the year 2030 to 2040. For instance, Norway which has the highest EV penetration for embracing the technology early enough, will see a complete phase out of diesel, petrol and hybrid cars by the year 2025.

But why is Australia being left behind? One of the main reasons is that compared to the US or the UK, EVs in Australia are relatively more expensive. Although EVs are presently more expensive to buy than the liquid fuel equivalent cars, electronic vehicle taxes in Australia heavily impact the uptake of EVs. The cheapest EV in the country is relatively three to four times more expensive than the cheapest petrol model. While in the US and UK, the cheapest EV is only two times more expensive than the cheapest petrol model. This difference is mainly due to laxity from the Australian government on issues of provision of infrastructure, emission targets and incentives which are an important consideration for electronic vehicles.

Presently, Australia lacks the electricity grid capable of fully sustaining an EV market. As such the Australian government needs to help install charging stations and ensure stability of the country’s power grid to encourage EV adoption. It is due to these reasons it is expected that Australia might become parking lot for the world’s petrol vehicles for manufacturers who could choose to run out their end-of-line petrol models here while they ramp up sales of electric vehicles in more attractive markets as discussed by Mike Foley in ‘Dumping ground’: Australia charged with discouraging electric vehicles.

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