Record fuel prices would need to double again before electric vehicles were more affordable than conventional alternatives, according to an industry body.

Petrol prices have been nudging $2 a litre across Australia’s major cities as fears of war between Ukraine and oil giant Russia send resources markets soaring.

Despite the hip-pocket pain at the bowser, the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) says petrol prices would have to reach $3.85 a litre before a consumer could recover the extra costs of an EV within five years.

The lobby group, which represents fuel wholesalers and retailers, said the analysis was based on an average price premium of $25,000 for an EV compared with an internal combustion engine model.

ACAPMA boss Mark McKenzie stressed service stations were agnostic about the fuels they sold and were keen to provide fast-charging services.

But he said petrol prices were still not enough to offset the higher costs of a new EV.

a black car drives at night
Electric car sales are growing fast, though off a low base in Australia.(Reuters: Sarah Meyssonnier)

“We are nowhere near that level at the moment,” Mr McKenzie said.

“But it presupposes that everyone is doing a profit-and-loss or an economic analysis at the dining room table, and most people don’t.”

Supply a bigger speed hump

Consultancy Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said even if rising petrol prices drove people towards electric cars, they might not be able to get one because Australia was a “laggard” in the global EV pecking order.

BNEF analyst Will Edmonds said EVs were already competitive with conventional cars when considering maintenance and fuel costs over the asset’s life.

But he acknowledged that for most consumers, the drive-away price tag was a bigger influence on whether they deemed a car better value.

Moreover, he said the biggest “speed hump” to EV supply in Australia was the lack of fuel standards, which he said were “absolutely central” to the market.

In the absence of fuel standards, he said car makers would not be punished for selling dirtier models such as four-wheel drives and SUVs.

New car imports parked on the wharf at the Port of Brisbane.

Four-wheel drives and SUVs dominate new car sales in Australia.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

Added to this, Mr Edmonds said Australia provided relatively few incentives to encourage the uptake of EVs compared with other countries, meaning supply was likely to be tight indefinitely.

“If petrol prices keep going up, that’s not going to impact how many EVs automakers send to Australia,” he said.

“They have to meet these targets in other markets, which makes these other markets priorities for the limited supply of electric vehicles.

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