Culture

What Will It Take For People To Switch To Electric Cars?

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The number of people driving electric cars is predicted to really increase over the next ten years.

The shift to electric cars is obviously great for the environment, and it’s also great for the people who own them because they’re much cheaper to run than regular petrol or diesel cars.

But petrol cars still make up nearly 73% of cars in Australia, so how are we going to get everyone to make the switch to electric?

Where Is Australia At With Electric Cars?

One of the biggest hurdles is how to actually make electric cars more affordable up front.

At the moment, buying one in Australia costs around $44,000 dollars, which is the cheapest model and just for the car itself, but this is something the industry is working on.

Telsa, who are pretty much the industry leaders in electric cars, announced earlier this year that they want to have an affordable option available in just a few years’ time.

Jake Whitehead: “We’re expecting in the next five to six years, that the average electric vehicle will be cheaper than a petrol or diesel equivalent. So that’s quite an exciting future on the very near horizon. But we’ve got to make sure we have supportive policies in Australia to make sure the vehicles get here.”

Australia’s electric car sales are still under 1% of all new cars being bought. In other countries that number looks more like 5% or higher.

Price might be one reason for that, but a lot of it comes down to not having strong enough incentives similar to those in countries like Norway, India, or even the UK who recently announced a 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles.

Instead here in Australia, some of our state governments have proposed a 2021 tax which will make people driving electric cars pay for choosing the environmentally friendly option.

Australia NeedMore Incentives Not Setbacks

JW: “The ironic thing with these policies is that it will probably make the situation worse, because for someone that’s already thinking about buying an EV – if this tax comes in – it could very likely, for a large portion, convince them not to buy.”

Instead of bringing in extra costs for something that is already super expensive up front, the government could be trying to encourage electric vehicles through financial incentives.

JW: “How about we take a much more holistic high-level view of the entire road tax model. Let’s move towards something … that is much more cost reflective in terms of ‘what are the true costs of driving’, in terms of congestion, and emissions, and damage to the road. Let’s use that as replacement to the addition tax.”

This different tax model could charge people on the amount of emissions they produce, which would be absolutely nothing for electric cars because they literally produce zero emissions.

Research already shows that Australia’s lagging behind other countries with our electric vehicle market, and this proposed new tax probably isn’t going to help that, especially if the manufacturers of petrol cars literally stop making them in the next 10 years.

But it’s also not going to help us reach our wider climate targets.

Transport is Australia’s third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and with our current business-as-usual approach, it’s highly unlikely we’ll reach the 2050 net-zero emissions targets we set at the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, affordable electric cars aren’t just a goal for the future, they actually are the future because there may not be any other options.

And if we are to get there, Australia really needs to work on making it a fair and viable option for everyone, not just for us but also for the planet.