What are Electric Vehicles?

What does it mean? 
Electric vehicles are fuelled by an electrical source, and not by petrol or diesel. Electric vehicles (or EVs) have gained significant traction over the last few decades as a popular alternative to fossil fuel motor vehicles.  

What is the challenge in WA? 
According to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the uptake of electric vehicles within Australia is slow compared to other high-income countries – with significant barriers being the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle and the lack of existing charging infrastructure. Within that low uptake rate, WA specifically is lagging behind – just one in every 1,852 of your fellow Western Australians drives an electric vehicle, which is the third-last rate in the nation. 

In May 2022, the State Government announced a Clean Energy Car Fund – and made some headway catching WA up to rest of Australia on the electric vehicle front.

The announcement included:

  • Up to 10,000 $3,500 rebates on the purchase of electric and hydrogen vehicles
  • $15m to support local governments and businesses with grants of up to 50% of charging infrastructure installation costs
  • $4m for the Public Transport Authority to trial the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure at four train stations
  • $2.9m in eight new charging stations across four locations between Norseman and Eucla.

In line with other States, WA will introduce a distance-based road user charge for low emission vehicles in 2027 to ensure all motorists pay towards the maintenance and construction of WA roads. The State Government has noted that the replacement of 10,000 petrol-fuelled vehicles with electric or hydrogen vehicles is expected to reduce carbon emissions by at least 7,000 tonnes each year. While this is a great start, we’d love to see the incentives ramped up – there are 2.3 million light vehicles in Western Australia, responsible for about 10% of all WA emissions!

Why is it important to take action? 
On a global scale the transport sector produces 20 percent of total carbon emissions, with road transport accounting for approximately 80 percent of this total. Electric vehicle uptake provides opportunities to support the transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. 

What action is being taken?  
The WA State Government’s electric vehicle strategy seeks to:  

  • Invest in charging infrastructure 
  • Have 25 percent of small passenger and medium SUV vehicles electric within government fleets by 2026 
  • Update existing vehicle standards, guidelines and approvals 

According to the State Government’s media release, ‘a key aspect of the policy is a $21 million electric vehicle strategy, which will see the establishment of an EV charging infrastructure network from Perth to Kununurra in the North, Esperance in the South, and Kalgoorlie in the East. The network will be the longest in Australia and one of the longest in the world.’ 

Supporting this policy are the Future Battery Industry Strategy and the Renewable Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap. These programs seek to utilise growth opportunities in the economy and the job market by developing the battery industry – as batteries are of course required in electric vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles also present an early opportunity for using hydrogen in WA’s mobility and freight transport.   

Some local governments have begun this transition on a smaller scale already. The City of Bayswater has transitioned to an electric fleet of vehicles and bikes, and the City of Fremantle has implemented electric vehicle charging infrastructure for visitors and residents along its primary café street. 

Where could we end up? 
Since 1990 the Norwegian Government has introduced a range of incentives to support electric vehicle update, including a recent national target for all new cars sold to be electric vehicles by 2025. The country is well on its way to achieving this target, with electric vehicles making up over 50 percent of new cars sold in 2020 – up from just 1 percent in 2010. Economic incentives like exempting electric vehicles from fossil fuel taxes have been part of this achievement and have also enabled EV affordability. Extensive, accessible charging infrastructure available on all main Norwegian roads has also supported the uptake.  

What more needs to be done? 
You can advocate for better EV uptake by making your local and state government representatives know there is demand! We encourage local councils and developers to improve EV infrastructure accessibility state-wide. This can be done by implementing simple and affordable charging stations in housing and apartment developments, shopping districts, public buildings and office spaces. Most importantly, the State Government is well-positioned to introduce incentives, subsidies and tax exemptions in line with those of other Australian states and territories. 


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