Fast tracking the number of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) to the same as petrol stations across rural areas would help reduce “range anxiety” and help grow EVs outside metropolitan areas, one climate action group has said.

Climate Action Monaro’s president Jo Oddie made the statement as the organisation held “EV-ent” on Saturday at the Cooma Car Club where a range of electric vehicles were displayed to inform people about the “necessary and rapid” transition away from internal combustion engines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms Oddie said more charging stations would act as security for motorists.

“We’re on the cusp of it being very good. If you think about the number of petrol stations out there, that’s a lot and we need to replicate that,” she said.

“We also need motels, hotels and shopping centres to have them in place.”

Ms Oddie said the country was expanding but “not quite there yet”.

“There is range anxiety but once people work out how to tap into charging network that’s expanding, they are able to do their trips, but that also depends on the car type,” she said.

“At this stage, we still need government policy to ensure we get that coverage. Other countries are taking the lead on EVs while Australia is dragging its feet.”

Ms Oddie said electricity for EVs must come from renewable sources of electricity such as wind and solar, backed up by storage such as pumped hydro and batteries.

“The transition to renewables of our electricity supply is happening much faster than anyone ever thought, but electrification of sectors such as transport is not happening quickly enough,” Ms Oddie said.

Ms Oddie said a second-hand EV market would also help, citing NSW Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance who in early May called on federal and state governments to start placing large orders for electric cars to create a secondhand market that could make the high-tech vehicles affordable for more families.

Mr Constance also said a 4-5 year moratorium was needed on electric vehicle taxes to ensure there was no disincentive for buying EVs.

A map by the Electric Vehicle Council shows 35 public stations and five high-power stations across the ACT.

Between Canberra and Cooma, there is one in Bredbo and four in the town.

The federal government in February launched its first round of the Future Fuels Fund to provide $16.5 million in grants to pay for battery electric vehicle fast-charging stations across capital cities and key regional centres.

Sites so far include the Central Coast, Wollongong, Geelong, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

Each regional location is expected to receive a minimum of four fast-charging stations.

EV motorists in rural areas will have to wait for future rounds of public funding, administered by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, with the federal government saying earlier this year that more research about charging needs was needed.

Joining the calls for all governments to help fast-track rural infrastructure to boost the uptake of electric vehicles is former ANU astrophysics professor Frank Briggs.

The retiree in Queanbeyan owns a Hyundai IONIQ Electric and was one of the exhibitors and speakers at the Cooma event.

He said it was time for governments to “move on to superior technology and not put huge amounts of money into coal or gas-fired plants”.

“I don’t have great faith that there’s anything anyone can do to influence this (federal) government,” he said.

“At a consumer level, there’s suspicion of EVs because we’re told to be by high-level elected officials.”

Frank Briggs in his Hyundai IONIQ electric car. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Mr Briggs said he bought the IONIQ, which can go about 250km on one charge, to try to “set a trend and show car companies there were interests to go electric”.

He said his experience with EVs so far was that it had less impact not just on the environment but also financially.

“My experience is that anybody I give a ride to wants one afterwards.

“It costs virtually nothing to run. No petrol and I don’t have to replace brakes very often. There is regenerative power. It just makes a lot of sense.”

In the ACT where transport contributes more than 60 per cent of the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions, the government announced in February this year that its Sustainable Household Scheme will be expanded to help Canberrans purchase secondhand electric vehicles and home EV charging infrastructure.

The expansion to the $150 million scheme will make interest free loans of up to $15,000 available to households to purchase solar panels, batteries, efficient electric appliances and zero-emission vehicles.

The scheme’s expansion is part of the ACT government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance earlier this month found that electric cars and vans across Europe would be cheaper to produce than fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2027 and reach 100 per cent of new sales by 2035 if tighter emissions and more support for charging infrastructure were introduced.

Extracted in full from: Electric vehicle use would grow if rural charging stations were fast-tracked: Climate Action Monaro | The Canberra Times | Canberra, ACT

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