Thousands of Australian lives would be saved every year if 50 per cent of all car sales were electric vehicles (EV), advocates say.

The Electric Vehicle Council reckons up to 2000 deaths would be prevented each year if the Labor Party’s 50 per cent renewable energy target was complemented by a 50 per cent EV target by 2030.

About 1.18 million new cars were sold in Australia in 2017. Just 1123 of these were EVs.

Vehicles emit more air pollution than any other single human activity, and cause hundreds of preventable deaths in Australia every year.

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said while Australia’s EV industry was full of  global leaders, the lack of direction from government has made Australia  “a global laggard”.

“Electric vehicles powered by renewable energy produce zero emissions,” Mr Jafari says.

“For this and many other reasons, the electrification of road transport has been embraced by the governments of all our major trading partners.

“I welcome Bill Shorten’s commitment to a 50 per cent renewable energy target and urge him to complement that with a similar target for electric vehicles sales by 2030.

“Electric vehicles present Australia with many opportunities, from clean air to new investment and jobs, but these can’t be taken for granted.

“We need a national plan to put Australia at the forefront of transport electrification.”