Speeding the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia: social attitudes to electric vehicle purchase and recommendations for government intervention to address market failures

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Copyright: Broadbent, Gail
Personal motorised transport overwhelmingly relies on oil based fuels that generate significant global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, thus contributing to global warming and exacerbating climate change. Recent models of electric vehicles (EVs) are suitable alternatives to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles (ICVs). Using Australian electricity as an energy source, EVs are capable of reducing transport related emissions and other negative externalities. Potentially, EVs could further reduce pollution as the renewable energy component of electricity generation increases. To recommend possible actions for Australian governments that could advance EV uptake two research streams were undertaken: 1) analysis of government actions in the more successful markets to identify international best practice; 2) original research, using online questionnaires, to identify social attitudes to EVs for motorists with pro-environmental tendencies to determine significant perceived barriers to uptake, and incentives that might enhance EV acceptance in Australia. Analysis of international best practice showed governments who provide financial and other soft incentives are more likely to stimulate EV uptake than those who did not, or who implement incentives poorly. To date Australian government action to foster EV acceptance has been minimal, as have Australian EV sales. The sample cohort had many attitudes in common with overseas ICV drivers unfamiliar with EVs. The main concerns were vehicle price, vehicle range and recharging away from home. An experimental component found providing relevant information could enhance positive attitudes towards EVs, increasing the likelihood that car customers, especially women and those buying new cars would next purchase an EV. Assuming near term EV purchase price comparability to ICVs, best government practice to speed up EV adoption includes: enacting appropriate legislation, supporting the installation and maintenance of an adequate public recharger network, procuring EVs for government fleets and investing in public information programs. These practices, together with conclusions from this original research, point to recommendations that if adopted by Australian governments could allay motorists’ concerns and encourage them to make the transition from ICVs to EVs, thereby accelerating the transition away from transport’s age of oil and driving a new energy future.
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Broadbent, Gail
Metternicht, Graciela
Drozdzewski, Danielle
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Masters Thesis
UNSW Faculty
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