Dr. Jake Whitehead was sitting on a plane somewhere in the Indian Ocean when the recent Electric Vehicle Summit started.
Although the conference was intended as a reset to overcome nearly a decade of Australian policy practice on electric vehicles and road transport under the previous coalition government, Whitehead, the Electric Vehicle Council’s policy chief was on vacation.
For a longtime EV researcher, it was a dream trip. Together with a partner, he ran thousands of kilometers in three different countries on three separate occasions. All were electric or hybrid vehicles.
As his colleagues shook hands and listened to the keynote, Whitehead explained what the rest of the world was doing at the forefront of electric vehicles in the two years Australia closed its borders to the world. He was directly educated about Taka.
“You can read as much as you want online, but until you can actually compare what’s really going on here in Australia, you can’t actually go there and compare,” he said. increase.
“It’s amazing to see how far these countries have come.”
The electric journey began with a two-day stopover in Los Angeles, where the couple checked out the new Ford F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T electric cars that were not yet available in Australia.
Next, we drove north through the Canadian wilderness in a Tesla Model Y, driving 2,500 km to Banff. From there, we rented a plug-in hybrid 4WD and headed to Iceland, where the Fagradalsfjall volcano began to erupt. On the final leg, we headed to Sweden, where Whitehead’s wife rented a gorgeous Porsche her Taycan her cross her Turismo for his birthday.
In the US, Volkswagen’s charging subsidiary, Electrify America, had built a vast charging network in easily accessible locations such as IKEA and Starbucks parking lots. In Vancouver, a car-sharing scheme allowed people to temporarily use vehicles, including electric vehicles. In Europe, Tesla has opened its charging network to the public. So now anyone can use it.
“I lived in Europe for six years and hadn’t been back in Europe for five years. It was a big change,” says Whiteford. “Everywhere you go you see electric cars. Go to the supermarket, there’s an EV. Let’s go to the sea, there’s an EV. Driving on the highway? EV.
But it was in Sweden that he noticed the biggest change. The airport has electric cars, and when Whitehead visited his friends, they couldn’t understand his interest in his car.
“I showed up and said, ‘Oh, you got an EV,'” he says.
“They would say, ‘Yeah, so what?'”
This is an experience many Australians seek to share. Over the past decade, the country’s politicians may have dragged electric cars into the culture wars, but in his two years as Australia shut down during the pandemic, the world has changed.
And as the future depicted in government planning documents reveals, other countries are beginning to conspicuously rebuild their cityscapes, giving them a taste of what might come home.
Journey of EV
In 2012, just 120,000 electric cars were sold worldwide, and now that number is sold every week.
According to the International Energy Agency’s 2022 World Energy Outlook, electric vehicles will account for more than 8% of the global new car market, reaching about 6.5 million units by 2021.
Australia represents just a few of these. In 2021, 20,065 electric vehicles were sold. This is his triple increase of 6,900 cars sold in 2020, but there are still rounding errors when compared to figures reported abroad.
When Australia fell into a time warp, how the rest of the world continued to operate is largely due to good policies abroad.
In 2021, the International Energy Agency, a very conservative body set up to monitor the world’s oil supply, says that by 2030 more than two-thirds of all new car sales worldwide should be electric. published a report that found that A road to net zero by 2050.
While Australian political leaders continue to tiptoe about the potential ban or possible phase-out of internal combustion engines, several countries, states, cities and companies have announced plans to end petrol and diesel vehicles. We are announcing the deadline.
The most ambitious is Norway, which will ban the sale of petrol cars from 2025. Other countries such as EU member states, the UK, Canada and the US state of California have opted to ban new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035. Even China has its own plans.
Such jurisdictions are helping people transition to electricity. Until recently, the UK government subsidized low-emission passenger cars, among other incentives for EV drivers, such as zero vehicle excise duty.
The ambition of such a policy is debatable, but the resulting rise of EVs in the UK stands in stark contrast to the lagging Australian market. Same time in 2021.
As sales increased, government attention turned to infrastructure.
The middle of the Dutch countryside has the best bike infrastructure anywhere in the country
The Scandinavian countries have seen the fastest progress to date. In Norway, the transition began in 1990 when Band A-ha was involved in civil disobedience by driving a self-built EV across the country and refusing to pay tolls and parking fines. I was. Since then, the country has introduced a series of policies, reducing VAT, offering free parking and charging, and other incentives introduced in neighboring countries.
In January of this year, sales of electric vehicles accounted for 83.7% of all new cars registered in Norway, up from 70.7% in July.
Widespread adoption of electric vehicles in countries such as Norway and Sweden has made them part of the woodwork, while Australia debates whether they are viable, but some countries have gone even further.
During a visit to the Netherlands in May, Sunrise Project climate advocate Tom Swan said he was “disgusted” by the way the country “left cars in place.”
“When I got off the train at Amsterdam Central Station, I felt like I had landed in a bicycle utopia,” Swan said. “More bikes than humans. There are barges on the river and full of racks used to store even more bikes.”
“In the middle of the Dutch countryside, we have the best bike infrastructure anywhere in the country.”
catch up with the rest of the world
‘Whenever I come back to Australia, I always feel like I’m back,’ says Whiteford.
When he landed in Brisbane, Whiteford said the “first and biggest difference” he noticed was the lack of electric taxi options at the airport.
Outside the terminal, the smell of exhaust fumes wafted as the pistons of waiting vehicles ignited with expensive imported oil.
“You can hear it. You can smell it,” he says. I am aware that I am.”
“But I have no alternative. What am I going to do? Walk home?”
Dr Whiteford says the recent EV Summit has raised hopes that Australia may act now, but it will still be “three to four years” before we see real change. .
“Sweden won’t catch up to where it is today for 20 years if nothing changes,” he says. “It’s not like the world just sits and waits for us to catch up.”