National Electric Vehicle Strategy

The National Electric Vehicle Strategy is a government initiative from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. The aim is to:

… “shape a truly national Strategy to ensure Australians can access the best transport technologies and help meet our emission reduction targets. The Strategy will aim to provide social, economic, business, health and environmental benefits. This will make sure we capture opportunities and have an orderly transition to transport electrification.”

CHOICE has written a policy submission to the Department’s call for feedback on the National Electric Vehicle Strategy.

Here are our six key recommendations:

  1. The Federal Government should introduce strong mandatory fuel-efficiency standards to
    create the right incentives for efficient cars to be made available to Australian
    consumers.

  2. The National Electric Vehicle Strategy should have a coordinated approach to accessible
    and fair charging infrastructure for all Australians, particularly people in regional
    communities, people who rent, and people who live in apartments. This approach should
    consider measures that ensure maximum interoperability, which will result in a more
    robust charging network.

  3. The National Electric Vehicle Strategy should consider measures that increase the
    supply of high-quality, second-hand electric vehicles for consumers. This includes
    measures that incentivise governments, businesses and community groups to introduce
    electric vehicle targets for fleet vehicles.

  4. The National Electric Vehicle Strategy should consider what targeted financial assistance
    and incentives can be offered to make electric vehicles more affordable to people on low
    incomes who depend on vehicles for transport.

  5. The National Electric Vehicle Strategy should consider options for providing consumers
    with independent information based on rigorous real-world testing of electric vehicle
    models in Australia.

  6. The National Electric Vehicle Strategy should support strong safety standards and
    access to repairs for electric vehicle components.

We welcome your thoughts on the National Electric Vehicle Strategy, anything from a policy point of view that you would like to see included and any comments on the submissions.

For non-policy EV chat about individual considerations for electric vehicles (such as which model vehicle to considers, services in your local area etc), head on over to the Transport category to our thread on buying an electric vehicle.

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The only additional recommendation is don’t put all eggs in one basket and push one technology over the expense of others. Changing to a system which moves private transportation to EVs is very expensive and consideration should be given to a range of solutions to meet different socioeconomic and consumer needs.

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Which are?

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There are a number which are emerging in parallel to battery EVs. These include vehicles using synthetic fuels developed from renewable sources, ICE vehicles fuelled by hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The first two aren’t EVs and more fuel alternatives are also likely to develop and be part of the mix in the future.

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Where might I read about the costs of those options to see how they compare with the straight EV approach?

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Just search the internet. There are a wide range of reliable sources and information on emerging transportation solutions.

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May I suggest an additional point to be considered.

Encourage businesses and car owners to engage in the conversion of ICE cars to electric and battery. There are engineering considerations, and it is not cheap, but the more it is done, the cost comes down.

There was a big business in converting cars from petrol to LPG which was largely driven by maintaining the latter much cheaper than the former.

Various Governments have been paying subsidies to get solar panels on roofs. Well an EV combined with SP house is a match made in heaven.

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First and foremost, Australia’s Parliament has to determine that we will follow world’s best practice. This will require monitoring of overseas experience and innovation. We led the world in solar PV panel technology, we can do it!

What about hybrid fuel/e-vehicles as an interim step while there is not a nation wide charging grid; and a compromise that may be more appropriate for those living away from urban areas.

Talking about a charging grid, there would need to be charging standards that imported EVs would need to adhere to. For example a standardised plug; fast charge rate ability, etc. (Think about what is happening in Europe with mobile phones.) Of course, our standardised home charger plugs would all work on all EV cars too wouldn’t they?

Perhaps consideration to a different cheaper electricity tarrif for charging an EV overnight, perhaps like the off peak hot water system heating? This would be appropriate for those who take vehicles away from home or the work-base during the day when their solar PV panels could/would otherwise charge the vehicle.

Finally, the Government needs to encourage the manufacturing of EV, hybrid, hydrogen, etc vehicles in Australia. This should include motor bikes, motor vehicles, commercial vehicles, trucks, and public mass transit buses etc.

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Policy could be framed to favour subsiding V2H or V2G chargers. They offer substantial opportunities to make better utilisation of the existing electricity distribution infrastructure and decrease peak loadings on the transmission network. This can be considered alongside home owners scheduling regular charging to soak up excess local PV generation during the day, and off peak at night.

The experts would be capable of putting a hard cash value on the savings achieved. These arise by improving the utilisation factor of the networks, reducing the maximum of reverse power flows during high solar output days, and offering support as a distributed resource during the evening peak period.

One interested party can see the potential.

The alternative is to not encourage or support these strategies. The consequence is likely greater demands on the networks requiring a more expensive network. IE more expensive electricity for all consumers because the benefits of more intelligent BEV charging have not been encouraged. The alternative will be all consumers who can going 100% off the grid and using their BEV’s batteries to support household needs. Those remaining on the grid will be paying a premium as the last consumers standing.

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You are suggesting a huge subsidy; the Button Plan with a triple bypass. There is really no chance of mass produced cars being made in Oz otherwise.

The scale necessary assuming Tesla is the new benchmark.

The ultimate production target for the Gigafactory is approx 250,000 vehicles annually. This demonstrates the scale required in a developed modern economy (Germany) to compete. Note the factory produces just the Model Y.

Is the greater opportunity for Australia in battery production where there are fewer competitors and greater opportunities for scale? Households and the grid need batteries as do Hydrogen-FCEV’s.

An aside.
The Ford ‘Crate’ EV motor and drive shows another pathway. Although it too is intended to be produced by the 100,000’s of units each year for Ford’s EV products. Note it’s an integrated transaxle style drive.

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Battery swapping, hydrogen, etc. certainly have niche purposes, but they’re still mostly unproven at scale. There is huge risk in the government throwing money at these things for them to only end up flushing money down the toilet.

You can see this inequality happening with hydrogen, in particular. The federal government, for example, has put $24.55m towards the construction of over 400 EV fast charging stations.

However, they are also funding a single hydrogen fuelling site, in Geelong at a cost of $22.8m.

Note that there are about 50000 electric vehicles in Australia, and the growth is rapid - about half of those are less than a year old, and there are only a few dozen hydrogen vehicles in the country, mostly leased to government fleets at discount rates by the manufacturers.

Hydrogen is good at some things, and can do many things, but for any use case where hydrogen and battery electric are both capable of the same thing, battery electric wins. Hydrogen is just electricity with extra steps and inefficiencies built-in, and can never be competitive where both are possibilities. This is well explained at this article about the Clean Hydrogen Ladder.

The fossil fuel lobby loves the idea of hydrogen, since it’s something that they can control - generation, distribution and retail - just like petrol and diesel. Pure electricity supply can be democratised - as many people have found out, they can install solar on their roof and become their own clean, free (or very cheap) fuelling station.

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Which are “continuing to wreck the environment”, I imagine. Personally I don’t believe that’s an option. Some deluded car companies do though - they’ve set their futures on a delusional belief that ICEs will triumph over these EVil non-fossil fuelled cars, and they have no intention of changing. By the time they work out that that is completely nuts, we won’t have to worry about them any longer. They’ll be stone cold motherless broke!

Hydrogen is proven.

And refilling stations commence rollout next year. Many manufacturers have or will be releasing H ready vehicles. Uptake of H vehicles has been stifled by lack if refilling stations which will change in coming years.

The battery EV marketing teams have been spreading a lot of misinformation about hydrogen which has got into mainstream media. It is in their interests to do so.

Many European car manufacturers are investigating heavily in hydrogen fuel cell vehicle development, and have made public statements that they believe BEVs are a transitional solution, possibly of around 10-20 years. Toyota and Hyundai also believe in a hydrogen future. Australia is also in the game.

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Li-ion batteries are extremely unlikely to power trucks. They need additional non-fossil based options.

Proven that it technically works sure. No proven benefit for anyone, except the mobs trying to sell the hydrogen.

That link is about a trial (and again, not sure for who, there isn’t a single hydrogen car in Tasmania)

I seriously laughed out loud at this, the reality is the exact opposite. Hydrogen cars have been universally panned by everyone, except those who stand to profit from them (and those aligned with them).

An organisation that represents consumers should in no way make an effort to support hydrogen cars - the vehicles cost more, the fuel costs more, the fuel stations cost more to build and you need more of them… and they do nothing to promote energy independence.

(Note I say “hydrogen cars” - trucks are a different issue)

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Not really. Many governments, including Australia, see a hydrogen future, including for cars, other transportation and industrial uses.

Australia government is particularly supporting a hydrogen future as there is an opportunity to move our traditional energy export economy to a renewable exportable energy future, maintaining the prosperity of the nation. It also will allow utilisation of excess electrical generation capacity which is required as Australia meets its future zero emission targets. H is also another energy storage option. The CSIRO has been making advances on how to make this work and has come up with practical solutions.

The Australian government has also developed joint H-strategies/agreements with like minded nations.

Heavy vehicles will drive the expansion of H-refilling stations. Once the H-refilling stations become more common, H-cars become a viable option. As I indicated above, there are many car manufacturers which are developing or have developed H-cars in anticipation for such to occur. If heavy vehicles don’t use H and H-refilling stations don’t start appearing, then your comment that ‘they have been universally panned’ may prove correct. Indications are this is highly unlikely.

You are possibly correct that there isn’t currently any H-cars in Tasmania, but such statements are irrelevant. There aren’t any H-cars as currently there isn’t a H refilling station network to support a H-car fleet. This is about to change and will continue to change into the future.

When the first BEVs arrived in Australia, there weren’t any public charging stations. If one used the same argument for BEVs at that time, they would now see this argument was a folly.

In relation to costs, no future transportation solution will come cheaply. Even with BEVs, the cost will be considerable as there is substantial investment needed in generation capacity, network capacity and storage above and beyond that needed for transition from conventional electricity energy sources. The economic costs of green H are different to network provided power as network provided power pricing is set principally by demand - the higher the demand the higher the pool energy price. Green H is different as when the electricity industry moves to renewables, where will be substantial over-generation capacity. This could be a multiple of the peak demand on the network. Such is needed, along with short term storage, to try and flatten out the fluctuations in generation at each source. Green H will take advantage of these overcapacity and forecasts are that green H won’t compete with network electricity, but will use electricity generation which far exceed demand on the network. At such times, the pricing for electricity will be extremely cheap as generators will be fighting to supply any electricity they are generating to try and pay for their capital investment and running costs, rather than the generated electricity being ‘wasted’ or unused. This means the electricity costs for green H will be substantially cheaper than that provided to the network for traditional consumption. One can’t compare the pricing of energy used to create green H with pricing for electricity on the grid.

I have outlined elsewhere in the community there is a mistaken belief that it will be ‘cheap’ and energy costs in the future will be cheap. In relation to H costs, there is information which indicates cost of a unit of energy in H and electricity will be similar in the next decade (from memory the target is around $0.25 kW equivalent for H). The Japanese in particular are investing a lot on R&D to achieve this goal. This means a kilogram of green H will cost about $3 to produce. This will be also game changer as a kilo of hydrogen has the potential to propel a car a long way (100s of kilometres).

I personally don’t think anyone should put blinkers on and only focus on one technology. Doing so may result in being locked into only one long term solution, when evidence indicates there will be multiple solutions.

Edit: a use of hydrogen which should be explored is conversion of existing diesel/petrol ICE vehicles to run on hydrogen. This is currently possible and while it is carbon neutral when green hydrogen is used as a fuel source, NOx is still produced in the combustion process. Conversions will be cheaper than buying EVs and could be a transportation solution for those who can’t afford EVs. It also assists with the transition from fossil fuels more quickly as ICE will remain in the current car fleet for many decades to come. The same applies to renewable synthetic fuels. Opportunities like these should also be considered moving forward rather than focusing solely on BEV vehicles.

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Why is there a focus on electric vehicles for replacing fossil fuels in transportation?
The energy effeciency of an electric vehicle is 3-5 times greater than the efficiency of any current ICE vehicle or alternate energy source.

How energy is best stored/delivered has been an extensive discussion in another topic - Electric and Alternate Vehicle Fuels. It’s worth a read, less time consuming in summary.

The imperatives for decarbonising Australia’s economy are widely recognised. Although there are differing political views on the priorities and urgency. The development of an effective strategy for electric vehicles requires the commitment of all Governments, including Federal and State/Territory. It’s reassuring that Choice is preparing a policy submission in support of the development of an effective strategy.

Comment:
The future is being decided by how effective and efficiently solutions deliver low/zero carbon outcomes. There is substantial evidence battery electric is the favoured next step for flexible transportation. Considering the 3 largest global economies, the USA is home to the current largest value EV manufacturer (Tesla), China is the largest manufacturer of BEV’s of all types, the EU’s largest manufacturers have all commenced transitioning to producing BEV’s.

Australia is too small a market to go a different way.
It’s come down to making the best use of and at the least cost of the solutions readily available today. Research continues into better battery technology, hydrogen solutions and other alternatives. Good policy always recognises there can be improvements at any future time.

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BEVs are functional vehicles without any public charging infrastructure. That’s one of their advantages, the cars had an opportunity to prove themselves first and it was only many years later when the first charging station and even longer until slithers of government support arrived. With hydrogen cars you need to spend millions on one hydrogen fuelling station before the car is capable of anything other than being a paperweight.

Electricity is an input cost of green hydrogen. Add on the costs for compression/liquification and storage/transport and it can never be cheaper than electricity itself.

But similarly we shouldn’t give fusion the same attention as solar, wind, and batteries.

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They are only just now advertising the fires that are caused by the batteries. We don’t know enough about them.