Most Australians are eager to make the switch to electric vehicles, but see a lack of supportive government policies as a key barrier to uptake, according to the results of a new study.
The research, commissioned by Uber, surveyed 1,000 Australian adults, finding that four in five people believed an increase in the uptake of electric vehicles could make a significant contribution to reducing Australia’s transport emissions, and that 45 per cent of Australians were willing to pay more for greener transport options.
A third of respondents to Uber’s study also said that the use of electric vehicles in ride share services would help provide an incentive to choose electric transport as their primary transport choice.
While Australians are evidently enthusiastic about making the switch to electric vehicles, most of those surveyed said that significant barriers still remain that make it difficult to justify the purchase of an electric model.
Uber found that 73 per cent of Australian’s identified the perceived cost of ownership as the top barrier to switching to electric vehicles.
Australia has lagged behind other markets in taking up electric vehicles, with just 0.75 per cent of new cars sold in 2020 being all-electric models. This compares to 10.7 per cent in the United Kingdom, 8.1 per cent in California.
Significantly, around half of respondents said that ensuring electric vehicles were not targeted by new taxes would help provide an incentive to make EVs a preferred transport choice.
State governments have come under fire for the proposed introduction of new road-use taxes that could be imposed on electric vehicles, as governments attempt to make up for lost revenue that would otherwise be generated by tariffs on the cost of petrol. This includes a Victorian government plan to tax electric vehicles 2.5 cents for every kilometre driven.
Automakers, electric vehicle charging providers and industry groups recently joined together to slam the Victorian government proposal, labelling it as ‘the world’s worst EV policy’.
More than two-thirds of those surveyed as part of the Uber study also said that the introduction of supportive government subsidies would help encourage EV usage.
General manager for Uber Australia and New Zealand, Dom Taylor, said that Australia was falling behind other countries on electric vehicle uptake, as other countries were implementing policies to reduce the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle.
“Australians care deeply about our beautiful natural environment, but unfortunately as a nation, we are behind countries like the US and UK in the effort to switch to electric transport options,” Taylor said.
“As Australia leads the world in COVID recovery, we have an opportunity to change the way we think about the new normal – with electric vehicles at the forefront of travel.
“We now know Australians are ready to embrace a greener future and are even committed to personally investing their hard-earned dollars into the solution. The public and private sectors need to work together to give them the opportunity to do so and respond to the demand.”
CEO of the Electric Vehicle Council, Behyad Jafari, said the study showed Australians were eager to make the switch to electric vehicles, even if governments appeared to be more ambivalent.
“Australians are way out ahead of their politicians when it comes to understanding the benefits of electric vehicles,” Jafari said. “The average Australian understands that electric vehicles help clean the air, cut carbon emissions, and reduce our dependence on imported oil.
“Australians are early adopters and we hate pollution. It’s painful for most of us to see the world racing ahead with electric vehicles while we get forced into the dirty slow lane.
“With just a little leadership from the top we could get access to the world’s best and most affordable electric cars and start seizing the benefits. Research like this should serve as a horn blast to our elected representatives,” Jafari added.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.