While US presidential candidate Joe Biden has indicated he would invest billions of dollars in electric vehicles infrastructure if elected next month, in Australia the wheels are turning slowly on an EV strategy.
The Morrison government first announced its promised strategy in February 2019, with federal officials previously indicating they expected to finish it months ago.
But in the last election campaign the PM and his Ministers shifted gears in a bid to criticise Labor for setting a target of EVs making up 50 per cent of all car sales by 2030.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison went so far as to claim Labor wanted to “end the weekend”, while his senior minister argued the opposition would also steal people’s boats and trailers.
Department of Industry deputy secretary Jo Evans said the electric vehicle strategy was expected to be finished in June this year, but the coronavirus pandemic shifted priorities.
“We are still continuing to work on that,” she told a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday.
The department was given $400,000 in last year’s budget to come up with a plan for electric vehicle use in Australia.
Electric vehicles have since been bundled into the government’s future fuel’s package, which received $74.5 million in this year’s budget.
Senior government minister Simon Birmingham expects a consultation paper on the strategy to be released by the end of the year.
The department’s Kushla Munro said plenty of consultation had already occurred.
“There has been a number of re-prioritisations that had to happen within the department because of COVID-19,” she told senators.
“A number of public servants were seconded to a number of different areas. The work has continued as it can do, the discussion paper is not yet finalised.”
Light vehicles account for about 10 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In the US, both Biden and President Donald Trump have indicated support for electric vehicles as the future of transport and a way to combat climate change.
The Democratic challenger plans to roll out 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations on US highways, eliminating ‘range anxiety’ – something which has been stated as a big concern for Australian drivers when considering EVs.
Last year the International Energy Agency said 2.1 million electric cars were sold worldwide, with that number expected to increase substantially in coming years.