Governments and car manufacturers are investing hundreds of billions of dollars on electric vehicles. But while the electric transport revolution is inevitable, the final destination remains unknown.
The electric vehicle transition is about more than just doing away with vehicles powered by fossil fuels. We must also ensure quality technology and infrastructure, anticipate the future and avoid unwanted outcomes, such as entrenching disadvantage.
Australia’s world-leading rollout of rooftop solar power systems offers a guide to help navigate the transition. We’ve identified three key lessons on what’s gone well, and in hindsight, what could have been done differently.
Australia’s rooftop solar boom offers insights into the electric vehicle revolution.Shutterstock
1. Price isn’t everything
Solar systems and electric vehicles are both substantial financial investments. But research into rooftop solar has shown financial considerations are just one factor that guides purchasing decisions. Novelty, concerns about climate change and a desire for self-sufficiency are also significant – and electric vehicle research is producing similar findings.
When considering the electric vehicle rollout, understanding these deeper motivators may help avoid a race to the bottom on price.
So what are the lessons here for the electric vehicle rollout? First, when planning public infrastructure where electric vehicles can be charged, construction costs should not be the only consideration. Factors such as night-time safety and disability access should be prioritised. Shortcuts today will reinforce barriers for women and people with disabilities and create complex problems down the track.
Like rooftop solar, the point of sale of electric vehicles offers a unique opportunity to teach customers about the technology. Companies, however, can only afford to invest in customer education if they aren’t too stressed about margins.
“Smart” charging is one measure being explored to ensure the electricity network can handle future growth in electric vehicle uptake. Smart chargers can be remotely monitored and controlled to minimise their impact on the grid.
The point of sale is a pivotal moment to tell new owners of electric vehicles that their charging may at times be managed in this way.