Australia to lag on electric vehicle sales until 2030s

Lax emissions standards and absence of sales incentives for electric vehicles (EV) risk Australia becoming a “dumping ground” for less desirable models and may mean the country won’t catch up to its peers on such sales until the 2030s, according to clean energy research outfit BloombergNEF (BNEF).

Australia remains a laggard in the uptake of electric vehicles, which only made up 0.7 per cent of new car sales last year, said BNEF analyst Will Edmonds, while noting that was a record.

“The market is held back by a lack of sales incentives, poor model availability and a mismatch between consumer preferences and the EV models on offer,” Mr Edmonds said.

“As a small right-hand drive market, without sales incentives or tailpipe standards, Australia risks becoming a dumping ground for heavy emitting models.”

The comments come after the research group said this week in its annual global outlook for EVs that despite a drop in sales this year because of COVID-19, electric models were expected to account for 3 per cent of global car sales in 2020, rising to 7 per cent in 2023. They are forecast to make up more than 30 per cent of the global car fleet by 2040.

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said that the policy settings in Australia were working against the successful uptake of EVs. A long-awaited electric vehicle policy is expected mid-year.

Mr Edmonds said that manufacturers tend to prioritise larger markets with strict emissions standards, or supportive policies, in their EV sales strategies. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to pressure on manufacturers’ supply chains, resulting in a bleak outlook for Australia’s already low number of available electric models.

“If manufacturers push the heavy emitting models they are unable, or unwilling, to sell in other markets into the garages of Australian consumers, it will take longer, and more effort, to bring down Australia’s rising transport sector emissions,” he said.

Without new policies, standards or regulation, electric vehicle sales growth in Australia will continue to be slow meaning that sales only catch up to similar developed countries in the 2030s, BNEF says. It expects EVs to reach cost parity with traditional combustion engine cars starting in 2022, with some parts of the market taking longer.

By 2023, EV sales are forecast to rise to just over 30,000 a year, making up 3.2 per cent of total new car sales, helped by an improvement in the availability of models on offer, declining costs and targets for the electrification of government and corporate fleets.

EV sales could see faster growth later in the decade, rising from 4.6 per cent of new car sales in 2025 to 18 per cent by 2030, with more than 1 million expected to be on Australia’s roads by 2032. By 2040, BNEF expects 64 per cent of new cars will be electric, along with more than 23 per cent of total cars on Australian roads.


Extracted from AFR