Electric vehicle owners urge more government support and for EV-hesitant to test drive

Advocates and experts say a growing demand for electric vehicles in regional Victoria will plateau if "obstacles" are not addressed.

Key points:The federal government is seeking to fund 50,000 EV charging stations in Australian homesEV drivers say they understand 'range anxiety' but encourage those hesitant to take a test driveCentral Victoria Greenhouse Alliance says less than 1 per cent of cars on the road are electric

The lobbying comes in the wake of the federal government's Future Fuels strategy for the electric vehicle market.

Partnering with the private sector, the government would seek to fund 50,000 charging stations in Australian homes.

However, the plan did not offer tax incentives, subsidies, sales targets, or minimum fuel emission standards to encourage people to purchase electric vehicles.

But for three-time electric vehicle owner, Jai Nankivell, the purchase was a "no-brainer".

The Ballarat-based rideshare driver said he would "never go back" to a traditional combustion-engine vehicle.

A man in a blue shirt sits in the driver's seat of a black car.
Three-time electric car owner Jai Nankivell says he'll "never go back" to a combustion-engine vehicle(ABC Ballarat: Laura Mayers)

"The moment I drove it I thought … I have to get one of these," Mr Nankivell said.

He said he was yet to experience charging limitations with his EV.

"I haven't actually needed the [public] infrastructure," he said, referring to the eight charging stations across the city of Ballarat, Wendouree and Buninyong.

"I started off thinking, oh I'm going to need to charge [the car] around the place, in the same way you'd use a petrol station nearby… 

"But actually, charging from home has been all I've ever needed."

But Mr Nankivell said he understood there were still hurdles in the way of a stronger uptake of EVs Australia-wide and was even encouraging those hesitating to take his own vehicle for a test drive.

"Having rapid chargers say, 200 kilometres apart all across the state would be a great help for anyone who wants to just get in their car and drive without having to plan," he said.

A screen shot shows a map with dots where charging stations are.
The PlugShare phone app outlines the charging stations available for use.(Supplied: Jai Nankivell)

Victorian demand grows

Rob Law of the Central Victoria Greenhouse Alliance said "range anxiety" and the cost of electric vehicles have been the main barriers to electric vehicle uptake in Australia – but noted a rise in demand.

He said less than one per cent of cars on the road currently were electric. 

"We are still seeing a doubling of electric vehicle sales this year compared to last," Mr Law said.

"We've been rolling out chargers across the Loddon-Mallee region, in places like Ouyen, Robinvale, Sea Lake and Wycheproof, and they are proving to be very popular, so over time we are starting to see the gaps filled."

Mr Law says the Victorian government policy of taxing electric vehicles was a further obstacle.

"In the early days when you're trying to encourage uptake of electric cars, it seems like a strange time to introduce the tax, and the $3,000 rebate barely offsets that," he said.

The federal government said it would ask energy ministers across the states and territories to incentivise the use of smart chargers in homes.

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An electric car charging
Electric car sales represent just 1 per cent of vehicles sold in Australia.( Supplied: Australian Electric Vehicle Association)

'Getting there slowly'

The President of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, Chris Nash, said it was vital to create stronger incentives to strengthen the fledgling market – comparing the Australian EV uptake to neighbouring countries.

"One of the key ways we know New Zealand got to a point of being able to make EVs affordable was transitioning their own Government fleet to electric vehicles and running them on short-term leases…" Mr Nash explained.

"Then they had this brimming second-hand market."

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Mr Nash, who is also the Australian representative for the Global EV Alliance, said he would like to see a stronger stance from the federal government.

"It's great we've got something happening … but to be perfectly honest… it's not a lot," he said.

"We are getting there slowly."

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Posted 10 Nov 202110 Nov 2021Wed 10 Nov 2021 at 7:34am, updated 10 Nov 202110 Nov 2021Wed 10 Nov 2021 at 7:34amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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