The Path Forward for Electric Vehicles in Australia, a discussion paper led by ClimateWorks Australia and co-signed by Ergon, was submitted recently to the Federal Ministerial Forum.

It proposes a range of policy measures, including tax incentives, infrastructure and emissions regulations desperately needed to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles if Australia is to have any chance of meeting its emissions target.

While a key focus of the discussion paper is on the role of electric vehicles (EVs) in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Senior Engineer Don McPhail said EVs could also help distributors like Ergon manage their networks and improve energy productivity.

Ergon Energy Senior Engineer Don McPhail

"We hope this will influence the Federal Government’s decision making and policy issues and given the weight of the companies involved, we’re confident it will gradually make a difference over time”.

"We see great value in EV usage, particularly through charging them outside peak demand periods, or when solar PV systems are generating to take advantage of excess capacity in the grid.

Don said Ergon’s experience in trialling EVs in Townsville had allowed the company to develop an expertise on customer acceptance of EVs and the eco system that supports them, including chargers, electricity tariffs, and the EVs themselves.

He believes Australia is lagging behind some overseas countries, where there are already financial and other incentives to boost consumer demand. Holland has already announced it will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2025.

Electric vehicle sales in Australia remain small on a world scale, with just 948 in 2014, only 0.32 per cent of the global market.

“Australia is playing catch-up. EVs are not recognised for their environmental impact. Uptake is still happening but as yet not in meaningful numbers.

“I expect EVs will start to take off in Australia in about 2020 when we will start seeing all the fleet vehicles from large corporations coming into the second-hand market, and everyone can start to buy a vehicle then,” Don said.

From a Queensland perspective Ergon is working with state government stakeholders to keep moving ahead on EVs.

Tesla 3 to be released in the US and European markets in 2017 won’t make it to Australia until in 2018/19.

Tesla's compact Model 3, launched with much fanfare in early April 2016 now has pre-orders of 325,000 vehicles worldwide which it says corresponds to approximately US$14 billion in implied future sales. The car is expected to cost between $60,000 and $70,000 on the road in Australia with production at Tesla’s US factory to start next year.