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The Reality Of Getting Half Of Australia Zipping Around In Electric Cars

As a part of Labor's Climate change policy, they have announced 50 percent of cars will be electric by 2030.

It's an ambitious plan.

In 2018, sales of electric vehicles hit an all-time high in Australia while still managing to remain incredibly low when compared to almost every other OECD country.

According to the Electric Vehicle Council, sales of electric vehicles in Australia totalled 2216,  representing less than one percent of car sales.

As it stands, Australia is one of the few developed countries without fuel efficiency standards, according to shadow minister for climate change and energy Mark Butler.

“Australia is now the country with the lowest take up of electric vehicles in the OECD," he told the ABC on Monday.

"We’re the only country without fuel efficiency standards, this means that pollution is rising on our roads and that pollution is rising faster than it should be. It’s time for Australia to get back in line with what the rest of the world is doing on electric vehicles."

The NRMA, one of Australia's largest motoring bodies, is on board with Labor's plan, which the organisation believes is an acknowledgment that the world is going to "change in terms of the transport future".

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"We know that increasingly more and more nations are putting a ban on petrol and diesel engines over the next couple of decades and so the NRMA's view is that here in Australia we have to prepared to do the same," NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury told 10 daily.

"We are currently facing a transport revolution. Australia needs to get in front of that. We need to be prepared to cope and have the infrastructure to deal with it because whether we like it or not this is where the world is heading."

'Range Anxiety'

Outside of cost, this is where electric vehicles are lost on many Australians -- the concern about whether or not you're going to get from A to B before clunking out.

It's often referred to as "range anxiety" and it's understandable in a country as big as Australia which has less than 500 charging stations nationwide.

Does Anybody Have A Charger?

The reality of charging an electric vehicle varies depending on what kind of charging station a driver is using -- where at-home chargers will take overnight to provide a full charge, public stations can do the job in as little as 15 minutes.

"Basically, it's all about how much electrical supply you can get to that charger," CEO of JETCharge Tim Washington told 10 daily.

"Obviously, at home, you can't install as big a charging station because you don't have that kind of power going to your property."

The Tesla electric car charging station in the car park at The Star Casino in Pyrmont, Sydney. Image: Getty

Drivers who don't have access to off-street parking in which to install a charging station of their own will largely rely on the development of public and workplace charging stations.

Late last year, light poles with EV charging capabilities were installed in Sydney's west.

But where the government needs to invest is not just urban hubs, according to Washington.

"People who want to travel between cities or go on holiday, they want to have the confidence that they can charge on those highways."

Though important for enabling longer travel in an electric car, these stations see very little use and are expensive to install due to how fast they need to work.

An electric car connected to the new fast-charging station at Swinburne University. Image: AAP
Incentives

Norway is one of the true success stories when it comes to "rapid uptake" of electric cars. More than 50 percent of consumers chose an electric vehicle in 2017.

The country offers a substantial package of incentives to promote zero emission vehicles, including no purchase or import tax and no annual road tax.

Drivers are also exempt from road tolls, given free car ferry travel, free recharge sites, parking and access to bus lanes.

"We haven't done enough to tackle incentives in Australia," Khoury said.

"Looking at the tax system, a number of electric vehicles still have the luxury tax on them which is just absurd."

Labor said it would allow businesses an upfront tax deduction to buy electric vehicles for business purposes.

Washington said workplace charging incentives are crucial to changing public perception around ease in owning an electric vehicle.

Featured image: Getty