The government has dropped the ball on electric vehicles but Australia can still catch up, says the country’s first report into the sector.

The Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles has made 17 recommendations that could light a rocket under Australia’s lagging EV uptake – but first the federal and state governments must pull their collective fingers out.

The first recommendation is basic: prioritise the development of a national EV strategy and an inter-governmental taskforce to lead its implementation.

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These are the factors slowing EV take-up in Australia

The people and companies who responded to the committee’s call for submissions related worries about higher upfront costs, driving range, lack of charging infrastructure, and limited model availability.

These are the key factors hindering consumer uptake in Australia, the committee heard, and without appropriate regulatory settings Australia’s near-term EV uptake “is likely to be modest”.

“Slow uptake will continue to result in EV manufacturers not prioritising the Australian market and fewer EV models being available to Australian motorists,” according to the report.

“It will also delay the realisation of substantial economic, environmental and health benefits, and risk seeing opportunities for economic development pass by.”

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Widespread use of EVs in Australia would deliver significant economic, environmental and health benefits to Australian consumers and society, according to the report.

It would also create new opportunities for Australian industry.

The committee heard evidence that traditional auto businesses were already “pursuing opportunities” in EV component manufacturing and assembly.

New industries, such as charging infrastructure manufacturing and installation, battery manufacturing, recycling, repurposing and related mining and processing activities, and EV research and development were also emerging as growth sectors for the Australian economy.

And while there will be challenges associated with increasing EV uptake, they can be managed with “well calibrated regulatory settings”.

Some of the other recommendations include:

  • National EV targets for light passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles and metropolitan buses (including Government fleets)
  • More stringent vehicle emissions standards and a new CO2 standard, “informed by those implemented in other developed countries”.
  • A consumer education campaign to raise awareness of the capabilities and benefits of EVs.
  • A comprehensive 10-year EV manufacturing roadmap, also covering R&D, vehicle and system design, and battery and component manufacturing.
  • National training for automotive service technicians in relation to EVs.
  • Funding of apprenticeships and traineeships in the local EV and associated manufacturing sectors.
  • A 10-year plan detailing priority electricity network infrastructure upgrades needed to manage demand from EVs.
  • Make amendments to the National Construction Code to render all new dwellings ‘EV charger ready’.