The Slow Shuffle toward Electric Cars

The emergence of electric cars as a viable alternative to fossil fuel based vehicles is an exciting and most needed environmental intervention in Australian society today.

Unfortunately, despite the obvious benefit this new mode of transport offers to proactive climate change initiatives, it has taken a while for the idea to take root in the national consciousness.

The Australian Adoption Rate

The Sydney Morning Herald estimates that just 100 electric cars were in use in Australia five years ago. That figure increased to 1900 towards the end of 2014, and of these, 1200 new electric cars were registered in that year alone.

So why has the adoption rate been so slow? Apart from the ever-present fear of change accompanying any behavioural or cultural shift in a population, there are other reasons why we are not all driving electric cars already.

Barriers and Progress

Stuart Nesbitt, The City of Moreland’s Climate Change Officer in Melbourne, is on point when he identifies one roadblock to quicker adoption of this technology. “One of the barriers to buying these cars is the perception that there’s not enough public charging infrastructure.”

However, the reality is that charging stations are quickly starting to pop up in large cities. Melbourne boasts 23 charging stations including 6 in the City of Moreland alone.

Developments and Early Adopters

Last year electric carmaker Tesla launched their Richmond (Melbourne) showroom and has committed to opening charging stations up the coast between Melbourne and Brisbane before the end of 2016.

Despite these developments, in Australia electric cars are still only in the hands of early adopters – usually highly educated middle-aged men, owners of solar panels who also like to keep up with technological advances.

 Subsidies and Electric Cars

Perhaps the biggest impediment to wider electric car use in Australia is the fact that there are no government incentives to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles. This makes Australia the only first world country not to offer a subsidy to help cover some of the upfront cost of buying an electric car.

However, if you are looking to purchase an electric car, but find the initial upfront cost a challenge, you could investigate a car loan from a reputable finance company. That way you can do your bit for the environment and get a buzz out of being an early adopter of the latest transport technology, without a huge upfront investment.

Looking to the Future

In The Path Forward for Electric Vehicles in Australia, ClimateWorks Australia states it is “the development of policies to support electric vehicle technology that could bring significant changes in terms of not only the technologies utilised for personal transportation but also in moving economies away from petroleum and lessening the environmental footprint of transportation”.

Furthermore, as this industry grows, there is a strong potential for new employment opportunities created “through sales, charging infrastructure deployment…

[and] new manufacturing jobs specialising in batteries, EV components or charging infrastructure technologies”.

It remains to be seen if Australia will get on board with electric cars and make a real commitment to climate change initiatives, or whether it will just remain trailing behind, choking on its own excessive CO2 emissions.