The new Australian Electric Vehicle Council will bring together car makers, energy and infrastructure stakeholders.
The council launched this week in Canberra with a mandate to promote electric vehicle uptake and clean electricity sources.
According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the Australian new vehicle market reached 1.178 million in 2016. Of that, only 4,440 were electric vehicles.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg announced a $390,000 grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support electric vehicle uptake.
Lower emission vehicles a government strategy
He said the uptake rate of electric vehicles in Australia is projected to increase to 0.3 per cent by 2020.
By 2030, as electric vehicles become cheaper, that figure should rise to 15 per cent.
“This would result in more than 12,000 electric vehicles registered in Australia by 2020, and around one million by 2030,” Mr Frydenberg said.
The funding from ARENA is designed to look at how to increase electric vehicle use.
It will also promote greater coordination across the electric vehicle sector.
Behyad Jafari, chairman of the new council, said the market for electric vehicles offered significant opportunities to deliver investment, innovation and environmental sustainability.
“While the global industry grows exponentially each year, Australia continues to miss out,” Mr Jafari said.
He urged collaboration across sectors to reduce barriers preventing the mass uptake of electric vehicles.
Renewables key to Australian electric vehicle uptake
Electric Vehicle Council member Scott Ferraro heads up emissions reduction research group ClimateWorks.
He said the push for electric vehicles needs to be accompanied by policies that promote renewable energy.
However, electric vehicles can only contribute to a clean energy solution if their electricity is powered by renewables.
In some states, like Tasmania and South Australia, a significant part of the grid is powered by renewables such as solar power, wind and hydro.
But in coal-dependent states like Victoria and NSW, a commitment to renewables needs to accompany the uptake of electric vehicles.
Infrastructure is also needed, such as vehicle charging stations.