Australian electric vehicle drivers are on average driving farther than people using gasoline vehicles as infrastructure improves, new statistics show.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics first looked at how electric vehicle drivers use their cars and found that in the 12 months to June 30, 2020, they had driven 69 million km.
Electric vehicles traveled 11.1 thousand km on average, 600 km more than gasoline vehicle drivers for the year.
In New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT, electric vehicle owners have traveled further than gasoline vehicle owners, with Queensland not far behind. But electric vehicles have fallen behind in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
Overall, electric vehicles were still mostly confined to cities and urban areas, with nearly three-quarters of all trips – 72.5% – taking place in capital cities. While electric vehicles recorded only 5 million km of trips outside urban areas, or 7.2% of the total, they still recorded 2 million km of interstate trips.
Electric Vehicle Council policy officer Dr Jake Whitehead said these early results were promising because they showed people were starting to leave urban environments as infrastructure improved.
“The claim that electric vehicles will end the weekend can be dismissed,” Whitehead said. “We see them being used for these long distance interstate trips.
“Overall this is very encouraging and shows that Australians are embracing electric vehicles and that the freedom to travel across the country is being facilitated by increased infrastructure.”
Whitehead also said the data had some caveats because it was based on a small sample size and different states and territories were not always clear about whether a car is an electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid, or some other type.
“We need to be very clear about what an electric vehicle is: It has been established internationally that an electric vehicle is an electric vehicle that you plug in and power using electricity,” Whitehead said.
“Hybrids and those mythical hydrogen cars – of which there are very few – unless they can be plugged in and powered up, they’re not electric vehicles. And we have to treat them separately, especially since they have different infrastructure requirements.
The findings come as the Australian government faces criticism for not doing enough to support the transition to electric with its new electric vehicle strategy.
While the strategy was billed as a “reboot” for the Coalition, it offered little to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and instead focused on the deployment of charging infrastructure.
This lack of clarity continued with national whip Damian Drum calling for the introduction of a road user charge for electric vehicles, claiming that as usage increases, revenues for the Excise duty on fuel will decrease, forcing governments to “find those funds somewhere”.
“You see a future in Australia where if we switch to more electric vehicles, which we will no doubt do, people who drive electric vehicles will have to pay some sort of road tax,” Drum said.