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This is why Australian businesses won't buy electric cars

By David Bonnici, 05 Nov 2020 Car News

Hyundai Nexo

A major survey of fleet buyers has confirmed the main stumbling blocks for electric vehicles in Australia

Australian fleet operators claim minimal Federal Government action, high purchase costs and limited choices are the leading reasons behind the slow adoption of EVs nationwide.

A survey of 177 local organisations representing industry and government controlling more than 66,500 vehicles revealed most have set targets to become carbon-neutral, but found that converting their fleet to achieve that goal a significant challenge.

AGL BMW i3

As a result, less than 30 percent of respondents were operating electric vehicles, according to the Australasian Fleet Management Association (AFMA) and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) survey.

MORE: How Aussie EV incentives stack up internationally

Earlier this year the AFMA, DPIE and energy company AGL teamed up to take the pulse of fleet operators and better understand:

  • Where they are in their EV journey?
  • Any barriers and roadblocks they are encountering?
  • What assistance they need to transition to zero-emission vehicles?

Key takeaways from the survey include:

  • Larger fleets are most likely to have reached a higher level of EV maturity
  • There are significant challenges to fleets implementing EVs such as:
    - Vehicle purchase cost (60%)
    - Charging infrastructure costs (45%)
    - Limited choice of models (34%)

This is reflected in the statistic that of the 66,518 vehicles operated by the respondents, just 1161 were battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and 3255 were hybrids. 

MORE: Five things that need to happen for EVs to go mainstream

Across the board, fleet operators would like to see government play a role in supporting EV adoption with 45 percent of respondents calling for subsidised EV purchase costs. This was followed by calls for more public charging infrastructure (36%) and subsidised workplace charging infrastructure (31%) - just over a third (36%) said they had some level of charging infrastructure already in place.

The survey also revealed how EVs in corporate and government fleets are mostly used; with 57 percent of electrified passenger cars, and 49 percent of electrified SUVs only on the road in metropolitan areas, while about 47 percent are home garaged.

One of three Toyota Mirai FCEV trial vehicles on trial with the Hobsons Bay Council in Melbourne. Local government fleets were among the earliest to adopt EVs

“The information and insights in this report are designed to inform and empower suppliers of products and services to Australian fleets, as well as policymakers at all levels of government,” said AFMA Executive Director Mace Hartley.

MORE: EV charging levels and plugs explained

“While we see many private and public sector organisations choosing to ‘go green’ by reducing vehicle emissions, their underlying motivations can vary significantly”

MORE: WhichCar EV Guide