Today, after a consultation period which received over 500 submissions from organisations and individuals around Australia, Our Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen revealed Australis’s “First National Electric Vehicle Strategy” – a glossy 56 page document that spends more time talking about things that the Federal and State Governments are already doing than the new initiatives coming from it.

At the core of the issue is that Australia is lagging desperately behind other major developed nations like the UK and the US on both EV take-up rates and a long term plan to reduce vehicle emissions.

Both those things go hand in hand in many countries where low emissions targets drive manufacturers to pump more EV supply into a showrooms.

And here’s why. The “Targets” that are set are not a low emission number that every vehicle must meet. It’s a target that must be met across the FLEET of vehicles a car brand sells. That means you can sell some crazy gas-guzzling cars and utes as long as there’s enough mean green in your fleet, like full EVs, Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids.

Think about America. Their best-selling car is the giant Ford F-150 Pickup Truck. That one vehicle accounts for roughly 5% of all vehicle sales in the USA.. 5%.

Sell enough EVs and you can keep selling the F-150. Of course, Ford is using Government incentives there to drive the take-up of their Electrified F-150, but that still is no where near challenging the petrol powered model – because of a massive price disparity.

The electric F-150 is 50% more expensive than the Petrol one. Affordability is a big issue for EVs.

So back to our – “plan”. Here’s the “at a glance” look at our EV strategy.

The GREEN writing is what’s new.

A mapping tool for EV charging infrastructure, good stuff.

Help for people in units needing to charge their EVs. Good stuff.

Help to ensure First responders know how to deal with EVs, good stuff.

Preparing a battery recycling initiative, great, and ensuring we put the end product issues to the start of the chain, great.

But then – the big headline – “Developing Australia’s First Fuel Efficiency Standard for new light vehicles” – ok, a plan to make a plan.

The two big groups you wanna please here seem supportive at face value.

Car Industry body (FCAI) CEO Tony Weber said of the news “The Federal Government’s announcement this morning acknowledges the proposed scheme will be suited to Australia, apply all available emissions reducing technologies and ensure that Australian families and businesses are not disadvantaged in terms of choice and price.“The questions and topics raised in the consultation paper highlight the complexity of the issue and demonstrates the Government has done its homework to ensure any future emissions standard is not a simplistic copy of an overseas standard but instead suited to Australia.

The FCAI and its members will work alongside the Federal, State and Territory Governments to progress the development of a fuel efficiency standard that reduces carbon emissions and encourages access to the world’s best zero and low emissions vehicle technology,” he said.

Over at the Electric Vehicle Council, their CEO Behyad Jafari said: “There’s a long road ahead for Australia to catch up with the rest of the world on electric vehicle policy, but this strategy can accelerate progress.

“It’s a relief that an Australian Government has finally committed to fuel efficiency standards, which have been operational in the US and Europe for decades. But with those jurisdictions now leaping forward in terms of ambition Australia must bring in strong standards that keep pace with the modern world. If we squib it on the detail Australia will remain the world’s dumping ground for dated, high-emission vehicles.

Australia is lagging behind as one of the last developed countries without any fuel efficiency standards. From the US to Europe and across the ditch in New Zealand, strong fuel efficiency standards are providing drivers with more EV choice and reducing harmful emissions. 

We will be working closely with the government as it designs a fuel efficiency standard for passenger and light commercial vehicles. Australia has a bright and clean electric future just around the corner, but only if we get the policy settings right today.”

So let’s fast-forward a year. The Government introduces some arbitrary number relating to emissions and that will force Car Companies to ensure their fleet of vehicles meet those new standards. Thing is, they’re already doing that. Volvo is going full EV here before they do it globally. Others are following.

Look at Ford, four vehicles in their fleet by just the end of next year.

These new standards won’t stop them selling Toyota Hilux utes, or Ford Rangers. Yep, those cars have gotten more efficient themselves, but they are and will be offset by the smaller Hybrids in the brand fleets. Toyota is probably already compliant because they sell so many Corolla’s and Yaris Hybrids.

And yeah, they will source more Right Hand Drive EVs for Australia too.

But they won’t be cheaper.

Electric Cars are Too Expensive.

It’s as simple as that.

You’re paying a $20,000+ premium to get the cheapest Electric Car in any particular car shape or size compared to the cheapest petrol car in the same category. And like for like within the same brand the differential is at least $15,000.

We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. And while yes, there are long-term savings from owning an EV – the up-front cost of an EV is crazy high, so many people simply can’t afford that.

I do not support Government’s paying big incentives or discounts for people buying EVs, that simply provides disincentives for actual competition in the market.

The bottom line

We’ve got a plan for a plan, and nothing much will change any time soon, not least the price of an EV.

If our Government really want the car companies to sell more EVs to more people they should require them to have EVs at lower price brackets, and they should require under the emissions targets that the “Fleet” calculation can’t be gamified by using EVs on a fleet to offset the sales of big Utes which are the best selling cars in Australia. That’s about as Green as “carbon credits” – something that simply means “I’m going to pollute this air, but don’t worry, I paid for a tree to be grown somewhere else in the world”.

So well done to the Government on making steps, but to all the people hoping EV prices come down – don’t get your hopes up.