Five reasons it’s time to plug Victoria into the future

Electric propulsion is arguably the greatest innovation in automobiles since the mass manufacture of the Model T Ford.
Samantha Dunn
Friday, February 24, 2017

In Victoria, we have the opportunity to lead the transition from a dirty, polluting fossil fuel vehicle fleet to electric.

On the first week of Parliament in 2017, the Greens successfully moved a motion for an Inquiry into how to incentivise the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Here are just five of the top reasons why it’s time to introduce EVs.

1. The age of internal combustion engines is coming to an end - it’s time for vehicles that are cleaner, greener and quieter

The evidence is in: internal combustion engines in automobiles have caused huge damage to our health, the environment and the amenity of our cities. Electric Vehicles have far less impact.

Internal combustion engines

Electric 

Air and noise pollution

  • Particulates cause respiratory problems and even lung cancer

  • Diesel was reclassified in 2012 as a cancerous agent by the World Health Organisation

  • Carbon monoxide is toxic, and above certain dosages can be lethal

  • Our streets and highways create noise corridors between communities

  • This noise can continue 24 hours a day due to freight movements
  • Streets and freeways would be quieter, providing more amenity for our communities, making houses proximate to freeways more liveable

  • Air quality in Melbourne and regional centres in Victoria would greatly improve, with less smog and particulates

  • Cyclists would benefit from not sucking in fumes when they ride on the cycle path next to traffic

Carbon emissions

  • Transport is the second largest source greenhouse gas emissions in Victoria, after electricity production 

  • Petrol and diesel-fuelled cars maintain our dependence on imported refined fuels
  • Victoria would be doing its part to mitigate climate change

  • If Victoria is to get serious about reducing air pollution and mitigating climate change, we need to move away from internal combustion engines

2. Victoria is already behind the ball in incentivising electric vehicles both in Australia and across the world

Counties worldwide have recognised the benefits electric vehicles provide communities and are already acting to increase their uptake.

In Northern Europe, for example, countries have provided incentives such as:

» Providing discounted or free registration and import tax discounts.
» Allowing electric vehicles access to transit lanes, reserved car-parking, free tolls and ferries.

Even across Australia, states and territories are acting to prepare for a cleaner future for vehicles.

Adelaide, for example, already has a free shuttle bus route in the Central Business District which is serviced by an electric bus recharged with solar panels on the Central Bus Station’s roof.

Just last month, AVASS supplied three electric buses for a 12-month trial on the Action public transport network in the Australian Capital Territory.

And this is a company that has its assembly plant in Victoria!

3. We have the opportunity to become a leader in this industry

We have the unique opportunity in Victoria to lead by example, and implement a thorough, well-developed plan for the future of our EV manufacturing industry and infrastructure.

I had the pleasure, with my fellow Greens MPs, of being delivered to the steps of parliaments on an electric coach prior to presenting our motion.

Some photos inside and out of the electric coach

The electric coach was built and provided by a company called AVASS, which has its assembly plant in Avalon. It’s an impressive vehicle. It boasts:

» High grade trimmings, plush seats and large flat screen TVs.
» A quiet ride (that’s very different to the clunky 907 and 908 services from Doncaster Park & Ride, with belching diesel and clunky suspension).
» Capability to drive from Melbourne to Sydney, or Portland to Wodonga on a single charge.

We have the technology already. We just need to lead the way in creating the right infrastructure to incentivise its use. Here are some examples of how we could lead the way

» Create charging stations owned and operated by the State Government, particularly on key routes, such as interstate highways, freight routes and tourist routes.
» Provide grants could be allocated to local councils to support the construction of charging infrastructure within their municipality.
»Ensure policies and incentives are created for the clean-up and conversion of petrol stations to EV charging stations.

We build Electric Buses here, so why don’t we use them here?

4. Electric vehicles present the opportunity to turn a new chapter in automobile manufacturing in Victoria

Locals in the car manufacturing industry have had a very tough time in Victoria. Thousands of jobs have been lost in areas where there are already above-average levels of unemployment. Families that once depended on a breadwinner with a steady, well-paying job are now facing uncertainty.

The AVASS bus and coach assembly plant is already a great example of the potential of the EV industry. At full capacity it has the potential to create a lot of demand for:

» chassis manufacture;
» motor design;
» windscreen and window glass; and,
» wheel hubs and parts.

This presents an amazing opportunity to keep related industries thriving in Victoria, and maybe even lead to an advanced manufacturing sector in places like Geelong, Avalon, Ballarat and Dandenong.

5. Putting more EVs on the road is part of a broader plan for transport that’s environmentally sustainable

We need to be responsive to emerging industries and technologies into the future, and plan as best we can for their arrival.

Car sharing, for example, is rapidly growing in Melbourne, particularly in the inner city suburbs. Many people are giving up their cars as they can get the convenience of car ownership without having all the hassles and expense through car sharing. Car sharing has proven to reduce dependence on automobiles thereby creating more space on our roads and freeing up carparks.

Electric Vehicles and car sharing are a great combination.

Charging stations can be built adjacent to car share pods such that the car is plugged in anytime it is not being used. There is never a need to take it to a petrol station; the car’s charge can be remotely monitored such that it is only available for use if it has sufficient charge.

Electrifying car sharing is the logical next step to further improve the holistic environmental benefits of car sharing.

Check out our video on EVs

I look forward to keeping you updated about the upcoming Inquiry. Keep an ear out for when you can make a submission.

Read the full motion here: http://greens.org.au/vic/mps/samantha-dunn/electric-vehicle-inquiry
Read the details of the Inquiry here: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/eic/article/3512