Electric vehicle demand revs up as companies eye future

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


More than half of Australian businesses are planning to replace petrol with electric cars in the next two years as they look to accelerate transport emission cuts.

Energy management firm Schneider Electric revealed the finding on Wednesday as part of its third annual sustainability study, which also found some industries had made greater progress than others.

And the company predicts Australia will see an “even more dramatic” spike in electric vehicle sales next year if fuel-efficiency standards are introduced to unlock greater supply.

The research comes after the federal government released its first National Electric Vehicle Strategy and following a record number of new electric car sales in June.

Schneider Electric home and distribution vice-president Chris Kerr said the annual research polled more than 500 executives from small, medium and large businesses as well as industry groups.

It found 51 per cent of companies were likely or very likely to invest in low or zero-emission transport within the next two years, and 22 per cent were investing more funds in electric vehicles than two years ago.

“(Electric fleets) are revving up and businesses are aware of what they need to do,” he said.

“They are navigating their way through this.”

But Mr Kerr said some businesses and industries were accelerating transport emission cuts faster than others.

Medium-sized organisations were most likely to invest in electric transport, the study found, followed by small businesses, while large organisations were 11 per cent behind the leaders.

Manufacturing and construction firms were most likely to trade petrol and diesel vehicles in for zero-emission models, at 68 and 62 per cent respectively, while healthcare and retail companies fell behind the trend at 43 and 48 per cent.

Mr Kerr said the next challenge for these industries would be installing sufficient charging infrastructure and ensuring vehicles could be fuelled with renewable energy.

Sourcing enough electric vehicles would also be challenge for businesses in Australia, he said, although the promise of a fuel-efficiency standard to be introduced to federal parliament could encourage more zero-emission imports and better supply.

“The upwards curve has been super surprising over the past month and I think it’s happening quicker than everybody thinks,” Mr Kerr told AAP.

“It’s going to be even more dramatic going forward.”

Electric vehicle sales have increased markedly in Australia, representing 7.4 per cent of sales during the first six months of 2023 compared to 3.8 per cent in 2022.

Battery-powered vehicles also set a record in June at 8.8 per cent of new car sales.

The number of electric vehicle models is expected to grow in Australia after the federal government introduces a fuel-efficiency standard to set an emissions cap on automotive fleets.

Transport Minister Catherine King said she intended to have draft legislation completed by the end of 2023 that would be introduced to parliament shortly afterwards.


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