Transport is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions in Australia. Electric vehicles fuelled by renewable energy can drastically reduce the sector’s emissions.

Globally, the transition to electric vehicles has momentum, but Australia still trails behind. Local government fleets could speed up the transition.

In 2018 Climateworks worked with local governments in Victoria to increase uptake of electric vehicles in their fleets. Working with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Electric Vehicle Council, we ran workshops and webinars to share knowledge on electric vehicles. At the same time we collected data on demand and liaised with manufacturers on pricing, developed tailored advice for local governments. We were able to compare the total cost of electric vehicles with traditional petrol prices.

The project focused on three key areas of change:

  • Knowledge and skills
  • Building ambition and motivation for change
  • Financing options and availability of vehicles

In doing so, we found that Victorian councils have a strong interest in electric vehicles. Six councils already had electric vehicles in their fleet. Another five had plans to purchase at least one within the financial year. But executive support will be key to progressing to full electric fleets.

The project identified knowledge gaps regarding the total cost of ownership and charging infrastructure. We created a cost of ownership calculator for councils to compare petrol and electric vehicles. Through this, we found some electric vehicle options have a similar or lower total cost of ownership than current fleet vehicles.

This report highlights our approach, findings and recommendations for scaling into the future.