Mythbusting electric vehicles: Who’s telling the truth about EVs in Australia?

Coalition and Labor battle it out in electric vehicles push ahead of May election.

Australia is beset with electric vehicle myths and misconceptions, and it’s even more confusing as politicians hit the accelerator ahead of a May federal election.

The Coalition seemed positive about EVs last year when Angus Taylor was spruiking an ultra rapid charging network. Meanwhile,  Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is a long-time supporter of EVs.

Yet the Coalition chucked a “Uey” when Labor leader Bill Shorten committed to a goal of 50 per cent EVS by 2030. Now, according to the PM on ABC TV today, EVs will destroy weekends and force Australians to part with their beloved utes and 4WDs.

Current EVs make a poor showing

The transport sector makes up 19 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are still rising despite Federal Government assurance they are going down.

Coalition and Labor battle it out in electric vehicles push ahead of May election.

Electric cars: devils or saints? Labor and Coalition can’t agree on the EV basics.

The Climate Council’s ‘expert statement’ in March showed that carbon emissions have risen consistently over the last four years, despite a large increase in solar power.

Also, Australia will not meet its 2030 emissions reduction target of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030, the statement shows. Yet the PM still insists Australia will meet its Paris obligations “at a canter”.

In Australia, limited model availability, high prices and ‘range anxiety’ due to lack of charging infrastructure have held them back.

Lack of government direction only makes things worse. So, it’s easy to see why EVs number only 2,200 out of 1,157,000 new cars in 2018, according to PwC figures.

Coalition caught with electric pants down

In March this year, Bill Shorten unveiled Labor’s new EV policy. Labor wants EVs to make up 50 per cent of new cars sold in Australia by 2030.

Before Labor’s announcement, the Coalition released a lack-lustre National Electric Vehicles Policy. The Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) claimed this ‘plan about a plan’ lacked substance and would ensure Australia fell further behind in the EV race.

After Labor’s statement, the Coalition went on the EV warpath. Scott Morrison said Labor’s plan would destroy the great Aussie weekend by stopping people driving large, high-emission 4WDs.

However, the Coalition has been caught out on its electric vehicle myth boosting. As the Canberra Times reports this week, the Federal Government has already spent millions of dollars on EV promotion.

The electric vehicles push has plenty of contradictions

In January 2018, then-Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg likened the “exciting” EV revolution to the introduction of the iPhone. With one million EVs on the road by 2030, Frydenberg said CSIRO estimates showed an emissions reduction of at least 15 million tonnes.

The Coalition’s own EV policy also factors in a 25-50 per cent EV share on new car sales by 2030. Environment Department officials revealed the figures in Senate Estimates last month.

Electric vehicle myth busted: Stoush over EV charging – 5 minutes or 9 hours?

Bill Shorten claimed last week that EVs could be charged in 8-10 minutes. A Liberal Party countered by saying that EV charging took between eight and nine hours overnight.

Reality or electric vehicle myth? You can slow-charge your EV at home overnight. According to the Electric Vehicle Council, residential chargers are able to fully charge EVs in around six to eight hours.

Households can use solar panels during the day or stored electricity from solar battery systems overnight.

New technology also allows fast charging in less than 15 minutes for a range of up to 400 kilometres. Energy Minister Angus Taylor himself issued a media release about this last October.

A $15 million network of 21 ultra-rapid charging stations will be built along major Australian routes, he claimed. This will therefore boost EV uptake. Infrastructure Australia says this network is critical to help Australians transition to EVs.

Electric vehicle myth busted: EVs great for camping, boating, fishing

This brings us to the weekend – which will be destroyed by Labor’s EV target, according to the Coalition.

Scott Morrison claims EVs are unaffordable and unable to tow a trailer or boat. People will be forced to give up their Hilux or SUV for smaller, more expensive cars.

Yet the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) has dismissed the claim. Labor’s 2030 target is still 11 years away, it says. Traditional cars will still be sold, and electric utes and vans are also being developed to meet specific market needs.

Meanwhile a video has been released of a Tesla EV towing a plane at Melbourne Airport (you can watch it above). Another EV myth busted – they are plenty strong enough to tow a boat.

It’s also worth remembering that EVs are around four times cheaper to run than fuel-powered cars. According to the EVC, it costs just a few dollars to charge up an EV for a 100 km drive.

By seeing EVs as a point of difference between themselves and Labor, the Coalition once again risks looking out of touch with changing values in society, and in the efficiencies of EVs in terms of energy and the environment.