Australians could save more than $20 billion in petrol and maintenance costs if electric vehicles (EVs) made up three-quarters of new car sales by 2030, according to Climateworks Centre analysis released today. 

New report Accelerating EV uptake: Policies to realise Australia’s electric vehicle potential, shows raising Australia’s ambition to 76 per cent of new vehicle purchases being electric by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2035, would benefit consumers and cut transport emissions.

The report shows Australians could save $19,500 on running costs over the 15-year life of their vehicle if they have the opportunity to purchase an electric car rather than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

‘This represents a saving of $1,300 in running costs every year for EV owners compared to owners of petrol vehicles,’ said Helen Rowe, transport program manager at Climateworks Centre. 

‘While EVs currently have higher upfront costs, these are falling. With the right mix of policies to boost the supply of vehicles to Australia, our analysis shows EVs and their cheaper running costs will soon be within reach of Australians,’ she said. 

Three steps to accelerate EV uptake

The report outlines three steps for accelerating EV uptake in Australia.

The first is to unlock supply, which is currently the main barrier to EV uptake in Australia and is critical to meet uptake targets. The report shows the best tool to address supply is for Australia to set a national fuel efficiency standard.

The second is for governments to implement a comprehensive policy package that increases supply, sets strong uptake targets, stimulates demand and plans ahead for a smooth transition for individuals, businesses and fleets.

And the third step is for governments to set ambitious EV sales targets to provide certainty for the market and gain the additional savings. 

‘Not only will taking these steps unlock $20 billion in vehicle running cost savings compared to Australia’s current projected uptake, but they will save 24 mega tonnes of carbon equivalent (MtCO2e) emissions, a quarter of transport emissions,’ said Ms Rowe. 

‘By setting a strong fuel efficiency standard, which Climateworks suggests should be in the order of 95g CO2/km by 2024, Australia can take a major step forward in emissions reductions by tackling EV supply. 

‘The majority of Australians see an EV as their next vehicle purchase to reduce their emissions and save money on operating costs, but the reality is they simply can’t get their hands on one,’ she said.

2020 government sales projections have EVs making up 26 per cent of total new car sales in 2030.

An aggregated target, drawing on existing state and territory EV uptake targets, has Australia already committing to achieve 46 per cent of new car sales by 2030.

A Climateworks modelled decarbonisation scenario, aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, has EVs making up 76 per cent of new vehicle sales by 2030. 

Globally, there is momentum for EVs to make up 100 per cent of new cars sold by 2035. This would allow around 15 years for ICE vehicles to transition out of the fleet in time to reach net zero emission in 2050. 

Australia’s transport emissions were 94MtCO2e in 2020, comprising 18 percent of Australia’s national emissions. 

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