Israel is moving to ban the sale of petrol and diesel-powered cars over the next decade — a push the country’s Energy Ministry thinks will see demand for electric vehicles skyrocket.

There is reportedly only a “few dozen” electric vehicles on Israeli roads right now, but with the change in government policy, the Energy Ministry expects that will increase to 1.5 million electric cars on the road by 2030.

This will drive demand for battery metals like lithium and cobalt as well as the rare earths that are used in electric motors.

Market research provider Research and Markets says the increasing demand for electric vehicles has seen the “drive motor” market grow in “leaps and bounds” in recent years.

A drive is the electronic device that harnesses and controls the electrical energy sent to the motor.

It was worth about $2.6 billion last year, which was a 21 per cent hike over the previous year, and it is forecast to maintain a growth rate of over 20 per cent this year through to 2023, according to Research and Markets.

To encourage people to buy electric cars, the Israeli government is already in the process of installing over 2000 new charging stations and slashing tax on electric cars to “almost zero”, energy minister Yuval Steinitz told Reuters earlier this week.

“From 2030 we won’t allow anymore the import of diesel or gasoline cars to Israel,” Mr Steinitz said.

“We are forcing companies to bring electric cars to Israel and for oil and gasoline companies to shift to charging stations in their gasoline or petrol stations.”

A survey of 1,290 drivers done by the Ministry of Energy found that Israelis are willing to buy an electric vehicle if recharging stations are available and they are cost effective.

According to the ministry, analysis of the survey’s findings indicates that 4,000 to 8,000 electric vehicles on the roads can create a critical mass to drive the market in Israel.

Fourteen countries – including the UK, Germany, France and China – so far have announced plans to phase out the sale of diesel and petrol cars.

Australia ‘behind the eight ball’

But Australia isn’t one of them and South Australia Senator Tim Storer says the country is “certainly behind the eight ball”.

“Five million Norwegians buy more EVs in a week than 25 million Aussies do in a year,” Mr Storer said at an industry event in Melbourne recently.

“Closer to home, New Zealand has around 2,000 more EVs on the road than we do, despite having a population smaller than Sydney.

“Furthermore, the lions’ share of the EV investment announced to date is being made in developed countries, with Germany and the US leading the charge.

“Coming from South Australia, a state with a proud tradition of car manufacturing, that point really pricked my ears.

“The federal government could also be doing more. We have no target, no overarching strategy or coordination, and are doing very little to support for consumers, manufactures, and the roll out of necessary infrastructure.”

Mr Storer is chairing a government committee on electric vehicles, which has received several suggestions on how Australia can address the main barriers to EV uptake.

These are:

Purchasing incentives, such as grants and tax breaks;
Removal of regulatory barriers, such as restrictions on second hand EV imports;
Improving environmental standards for all cars, such as enhanced vehicle emissions standards;
Installing enabling infrastructure, such as charging networks; and
Awareness and education campaigns.

“With regards to supporting domestic manufacturing, increasing domestic EV uptake is seen by many as the critical enabler,” Mr Storer said.

“Some have also called for government grants and tax incentives.”