The new National Electric Vehicle Strategy (NEVS) unveiled underscores the pivotal role of the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) in accelerating Australia’s transition to clean, electric transportation. As the nation endeavours to shift significantly towards sustainable mobility, the NRMA has emerged as a key player in this monumental EV charging transition.
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NRMA's push for electric vehicle infrastructure
The NRMA, Australia’s largest motoring organisation, has already initiated a significant move towards expanding electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in Australia. Leveraging its rich history of striving to make roads and vehicles safer and more convenient for the residents of New South Wales, the NRMA has embarked on installing a robust EV charging network across the country. There are 50 charging sites from Ewingsdale near Byron Bay in the state’s north to Tanunda in South Australia‘s west.
This move is significant because it addresses one of the most critical hurdles in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles – charging infrastructure. By developing a comprehensive charging network, the NRMA significantly eliminates “range anxiety,” making it more convenient and practical for Australians to switch to electric vehicles.
The National Electric Vehicle Strategy
The new National Electric Vehicle Strategy outlines a comprehensive roadmap to promote the adoption of electric vehicles in Australia. It strongly emphasises enhancing the accessibility, affordability, and reduction of emissions related to electric vehicles, with a particular focus on expanding choice and improving affordability for potential buyers. The strategy outlines several key measures to achieve these objectives, including:
Mandated fuel efficiency standard: Introducing a legislated fuel efficiency standard to limit greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, ensuring an average level of carbon emissions across car manufacturers.
Increased model variety: Encouraging car manufacturers to produce more electric vehicle models.
Affordability: Assisting automakers in introducing more affordable electric vehicle models priced under $60,000.
Increased sales: Targeting higher electric vehicle sales than the total car market.
Expanded Charging Infrastructure: Expanding access to both DC (“fast chargers”) and AC (“destination”) public EV chargers, including NRMA’s extensive national network.
National Mapping Tool: Developing a national mapping tool to guide investment in EV network rollouts.
Battery recycling initiatives: Preparing for recycling, reuse, and stewardship programs for electric vehicles and other large-format batteries.
Promoting local manufacturing: Leveraging the Australian Made Battery Plan, National Reconstruction Fund, and Critical Minerals Strategy to stimulate electric vehicle manufacturing and recycling within Australia.
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The need for legislated fuel efficiency standards
Australia’s push for legislated fuel efficiency standards is a significant element of this strategy. While the country currently has voluntary standards, it needs to provide the necessary incentives for automakers to prioritise electric and fuel-efficient vehicles. This deficiency disadvantages Australia compared to countries with established demand for EVs and strong legislated standards.
The NRMA emphasises that Australia faces an EV supply rather than a demand issue. As such, a mandated CO2 standard is identified as a vital component to encourage the supply of electric vehicles, thus strengthening market signals and accelerating the transition.
The NRMA further underscores that transitioning the transport sector is a readily achievable avenue for reducing emissions, particularly if the energy sector continues decarbonising. This shift in the transport sector is essential for Australia to meet its international commitments to emissions reduction, notably net zero 2050.
What should Australia's fuel efficiency standard encompass?
The NRMA advocates for ambitious, competitive, and phased fuel efficiency targets for Australia to catch up with the global EV transition effectively. Their recommendations include
Consistency with global standards: Introducing targets that align with major automotive markets such as the European Union, Japan, and the United States.
Separation of targets: Differentiating targets for cars and SUVs from those for light commercial and large 4WD vehicles.
Phased targets: Commencing phased targets starting from January 1, 2025.
Aggressive emissions reduction: Reducing average vehicle emissions by over 95% for all vehicles (excluding heavy transport) to 0gm CO2 per kilometre by 2035.
Penalties for high emissions vehicles: Subjecting most new carbon-emitting vehicles to financial penalties from 2036.
Flexibility for automakers: Offering flexibility to carmakers through manufacturer or group-wide targets, akin to the EU’s pooling targets, between 2025-2035.
NRMA's off-grid EV charging solution: A breakthrough for remote Australia
The NRMA is also leading the way in developing off-grid EV charging solutions for remote areas of the country. The NRMA has announced the development of a prototype off-grid EV fast charging station that will be powered by solar panels and battery banks, with backup generators for reliability. The system is designed to be modular and scalable to expand as demand and usage increase.
The prototype is expected to be tested in 2023, and the NRMA plans to deploy the solution at sites along remote routes such as the Stuart and Eyre Highways. The NRMA’s CEO of Energy, Carly Irving-Dolan, said the off-grid technology is critical to supporting the national EV highway network across regional and remote Australia.
“We know the Australian landscape presents unique challenges for EV infrastructure, particularly in remote Australia,” Irving-Dolan said. “Utilising renewable energy, which is abundant in central Australia, is an innovative way to connect remote communities and ensure no community is out of reach in an EV.”
Source&Images: NRMA Electric Vehicle News, Carly Irving-Dolan LinkedIn
Achieving a cleaner, greener automotive landscape
The NRMA’s pivotal role in powering Australia’s electric vehicle transition, combined with the strategies outlined in the new National Electric Vehicle Strategy, positions Australia on a path toward a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future in transportation. With a focus on infrastructure, legislated standards, and sustainable practices, the nation is well on its way to achieving a cleaner, greener automotive landscape.
The NRMA’s off-grid EV charging solution is significant in making electric vehicles practical for Australians living and travelling in remote areas. The technology is also likely to interest other countries with similar challenges.
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