The acceleration of electric vehicles across the public sector

Less than 1% of cars sold in Australia are electric vehicles*.

Yet with their positive impact in reducing carbon emissions, why has Australia not seen more of an uptake in the EV market, since first arriving in the country in 2007?

When it comes to general consumers, perhaps it’s the ‘fear of the unknown’, sticking with what we’re used to and the uncertainty around costs and associated risks. With privately owned businesses, it could be that employees may not have the down time in between meetings and being on the road to plug in and wait the recharge time, should they have not charged up their vehicle the night before.

However, perhaps the largest contributing factor for why Australia is one of the late adopters of EV’s comes down to the lack of infrastructure currently in place to support EV requirements. Globally, EV infrastructure is further progressed and sophisticated, with the difference in Australia being the large open spaces and long distances in which vehicles often travel. At present, longer distances require more planning for where charging stations are currently located. It is here where further attention is required to aid in the introduction of emerging EV services, such as additional charging stations on highways or battery exchange centres in more regional and rural towns.

People also want to understand where the vehicle comes from and ensure that it adheres to the reduction in the carbon footprint. One big question is, what does it cost from a carbon footprint to actually produce a green vehicle with regards to your battery and your vehicle components? Yet once we do start to see costs come down, it may make the purchasing and acquiring of EVs more appealing.

With Australia’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 looming, the last 12-18 months has seen local governments ramping up their conversations around battery operated vehicles and understanding what that means for them, especially when the sense of urgency to reduce their carbon footprint is becoming increasingly imperative.   

What we’ve seen to date in the local government space, is more the welcoming of the hybrid vehicle. With the hybrid running on both electricity and fuel, it takes pressure off having a fully charged battery 100% time, falling back on fuel when and as required, whilst still decreasing the amount of carbon being run on standard fuel based automobile. It’s understandable then, that through the introductory years of non-fuel based cars, the hybrid has been more favourable, in that it still encompasses the element of the known and sustains long distances without the apprehension of experiencing a flat battery with no nearby facility to recharge.

A starting point for local councils looking to reduce both their carbon footprint and operating costs, has been with vehicles obtained for parking rangers. With shorter distances travelled and rangers exiting the vehicle often, walking around and getting back in, it makes sense for EVs to take their place in this space. Being high idling, sitting in traffic and that stop/start vehicle, it’s no wonder local governments are switching to EVs, as they not only cost less in fuel but also positively contribute to the environment at large, with less burning of fuel. Councils can also look to use electricity generated from solar panels on their buildings to charge these vehicles, further supporting their carbon footprint reduction.

When you hear the term ‘electric vehicle’, you’d be forgiven for only having one major brand that first springs to mind. However with limited budgets and a requirement for a full fleet, it is of no surprise that local governments are not turning to the typical premium EV brands.

Brands in the automotive industry have been feeling the pressure, now more than ever, to manufacture battery based vehicles in addition to their signature classics. Traditional fuel based manufacturers are having to adapt, to now address environmental issues with their own model and make of the EV. Over the last few months, reputable Japanese brands in the automotive industry, such as Nissan and Toyota have announced the launch of their version of the electric vehicle. It is here where we will start to see more of a shift from the standard petroleum fuelled vehicle, to one that runs on electricity, with cheaper, more affordable options in the market. This then offers an opportunity for local councils to take advantage of competitive pricing and further embrace EVs as part of their fleet.

However, when it comes to considering the cost of EVs, it’s more than just vehicle and maintenance spend. Whilst on the one hand it may lean towards cost savings in petroleum, there are also challenges to upskilling. For example, staff need to be trained on how to deal with an EV vs. vehicles with a combustion engine. If local governments do go down the fleet path for recycle trucks and maintenance vans, this would require a complete fleet change and considerations to infrastructure in workshops and mapping out charger points. The cost of full EV light & heavy vehicles should also be factored into the buying equation, with EV trucks often costing an extra 50% to 100% of the internal combustion vehicle initial purchase price.

Additional obstacles faced in Australia, include understanding where people get their electricity from to recharge their car. Is it a fossil fuel energy source or a green power supply such as wind or solar? This in itself, is an area that needs to be explored further as part of the strategic planning for EV infrastructure.

When thinking about the monetary investment required for the set-up of EV infrastructure, a specialised financier, such as Maia Financial, can partner with businesses and local councils to explore flexible and affordable finance solutions. This would of course, depend on operating budgets and deciding on whether to purchase outright or with capex. Based off the fact battery technology is already changing, and an EV is likely to be retained for 5-8 years, a leasing arrangement would provide the flexibility to upgrade and replace vehicles and infrastructure as the technology evolves.

Maia Financial can provide a range of specialised equipment financing solutions, to support the public sector in funding the acquisition of electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure to ensure requirements are met. Get in touch with Maia Financial to understand how the specialist team may be able to assist in getting you closer to your EV infrastructure goals.

There was once a time where manual vehicles occupied most of the road and the automatic car was considered an item of luxury. As EV sales continue to rise, developments in EV infrastructure further progress and there’s still an overall conscientiousness from both the government and the general public to reduce our carbon footprint, fuel based cars may too become a thing of the past.


Found this article interesting? To keep up to date with our articles and regular newsletters, please complete our form here