lovers in the US and beyond will be relieved to hear that Ford has launched an
electric version of its powerful F-150 SUV, the most popular car in the US
since the 1980s. The F-150 Lightning has a 360 km range, 3.5 tonnes of towing capacity,
11 charging ports for power tools, three days worth of backup power and can be charged at home. Even Aussie tradies ought to be happy with that (see below). [Yes, I know Tesla came out with a ute 2 years earlier, but maybe that was a bit futuristic for our lads].
Despite this, market penetration in the USA was under 2%
Transport is Australia's second highest source of emissions after coal fired power generation and accounts for 18% of its CO2 output, putting it behind Russia, Mexico and Indonesia. It is also expected to rise from 102 million tons in 2018 to 111 million tons by 2030. Other reasons for this include high car usage, lack of emission standards, low spending on and use of public transport and long distances travelled per person.
Western Australia was the first and began rolling out charging stations. Victoria has dropped stamp duty and offers a subsidy of $3000 on new vehicle purchases. It has also dropped the luxury car tax on cars over $68,740 and allows $100 off registration charges. As of July it has also instituted a road mileage tax.
Late starter NSW has just announced the most comprehensive program with both a rebate for EVs as well as dropping stamp duty which together bring the price down by about $AU 5000. It will also start charging a mileage tax in 2027 when the loss of revenue from petrol taxes starts to bite. Queensland allows EVs to use its High Occupancy Vehicle lanes and pay less stamp duty. The ACT has zero stamp duty for both new and used EVs, two years of free registration and interest free loans to $15,000. Tasmania has waived stamp duty on new and used models which amounts to around $2,000 on a new one. South Australia has announced no incentives, but is rolling out charging stations and will charge a mileage tax from 2022.
Most of these policies are fairly recent, so it will be interesting to see what impact they will have over time. Higher wages and more secure jobs would make a difference as well. However, the infrastructure does have to be there too. It was a very good idea of Elon Musk’s not to release his Tesla here unless the prospective owner had solar panels on their roof.
Ready, Set, Go!
Charging stations are now popping up all over the place. I saw my first at Mt. Field in May and looking at the map, I was very surprised to see the coverage which had been achieved already. Now there are even more on the way. With support from the federal government there will be another 430 dual charging stations scattered around Australia. Ampol is providing chargers along the main highways. Engie is rolling out chargers in 30 shopping centres owned by Vicinity. Evie Networks and Partners are building another 158 across 8 regions and major cities. US Company BlackRock is investing in 5,000 free charging stations through charging company JOLT which is using existing infrastructure and has just opened in its first one in Sydney.
Free charging stations are beginning to open in Sydney
I don’t want to make excuses for Australia which is right there at the back of the class, but having a
very large landmass with a small scattered population will make it dependent on
private transport for a very long time. Even in its sprawling cities, public
transport is poor and rarely pays for itself (there’s no excuse in the densely
populated cities of Europe or Asia) and there is very little connectivity
between places. This may change with more enlightened planning but will take time. Australia doesn’t even have an efficient rail connection between its
major cities and you do need rugged transport to go anywhere beyond them.
The train between Canberra and Melbourne for example, takes 4 hours and 37 minutes but has a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride in between.The Melbourne to Perth trip takes two days and four hours plus a 15-hour layover, two bus trips of 11 hours and 45 minutes, and produces 217 Kg of CO2. It also costs between $AU 660 and $AU 1,459, around three times as much as flying, which takes 3 h-4 hours and produces 191 Kg of CO2
Australia's one and only highway between Melbourne and Perth was only sealed in the 1970’s, the one between Darwin and Adelaide not until the 1980s. Furthermore, its economy relies heavily on resource extraction and agriculture which are conducted far from the city fringes and require transport for produce as well as workers. Workers mostly fly in and out too.
The same would apply to some extent to Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and other primary producers. At this stage shipping is not counted, but it should be, and attributed to the countries which import or consume those resources.
However, that does not mean that Australia shouldn’t be
trying harder. Look what Norway, with an even smaller population of only around five and
a half million or so has managed to achieve. That’s at least partly because it
has invested the proceeds of its mineral wealth for the benefit of its people
rather than sending the bulk of its profits to shareholders or corporations overseas. As Ketan Joshi remarked recently," we hear a lot about what individuals can do to reduce emissions -like recycling and eating less meat, but not much about the companies which produce 70% of those emissions." There are also fears that without effective vehicle emissions standards which have been adopted by 80% of the market and which have been very effective at bringing down CO2 emissions and particulates, Australia will become a dumping ground for polluting, substandard cars.
Instead of subsidising fossil fuel companies to the tune of $AU 10.3 billion Australia could for instance, ensure that governments at all levels – state, federal and local, use electric vehicles both to set an example and to bring down prices, as should all large companies. A discount on bulk purchases and leases should also be considered along with conversion and expansion of all public transport, trucks and trains. People in urban areas shouldn't need SUVs to pick up their children from school. What's wrong with bringing back school buses -electric please or better still, electric mini cabs, or having 'walking buses' like they do in Canada, where new subdivisions have internal lanes so children don't have to risk health and safety on public roads?