By on July 30, 2017

Kangaroo sign Australia, Image: bluedeviation/Flickr

Australia’s Queensland Cabinet announced it would be constructing one of the longest electric highways in the world this week. The expanse of roadway already exists on the country’s eastern seaboard, but the $3 million plan intends to add an 18-station network between Gold Coast and Cairns. While EV owners might not want to hazard into the outback just yet, coastal drivers will have some peace of mind traveling between Australia’s major towns.

The fast-charging network plans to provide free power for at least a year in what the environment minister, Steven Miles, explained was a bid to increase the number of electric cars on Queensland roads. 

“This project is ambitious, but we want as many people as possible on board the electric vehicle revolution, as part of our transition to a low emissions future,” Miles said during the project’s announcement.

Australia intends to finish its “electric highway” within six months and compared it to the scale of California’a own “west coast green highway.” Although, there are some massive differences between the U.S. and the Land Down Under in terms of EV ownership. Australians have largely shunned electric vehicles. It’s estimated that total EV sales for the country, between 2010 and 2017 haven’t yet surpassed 5,000 units, despite the growing popularity of non-plug-in hybrids. Meanwhile, the State of California accounted for almost 250,000 plug-in deliveries between 2011 and the tail-end of 2016.

Granted, California does possess a higher overall population and an enviable charging network. But even less populous U.S. states, like Florida, surpass Australian EV sales by a margin of over 4-to-1. And there is worse news, Aussie plug-in sales have suffered a 90 percent drop after Nissan and Mitsubishi pulled the Outlander P-HEV and Nissan Leaf off of the market last year.

“The most recent Queensland Household Energy Survey showed that 50% of Queenslanders will consider an electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid or regenerative braking hybrid, when purchasing a new car in the next two years and that majority said improvements to public fast-charging infrastructure would further tempt them into purchasing an EV,” Miles stated. “The future truly is electric.”

It, assuredly, could be. But, with so few PEV options within the Australian marketplace, it’s difficult to imagine consumers actually succumbing to the implied temptation right away. With Japan’s heaviest hitters off the table, consumers are left with the Mercedes-Benz C350e and Tesla Model S as the country’s most popular options. But neither offer the affordability of Chevrolet’s Bolt, which isn’t expected to make it Australia anytime soon.

However, this hasn’t stopped the plan from receiving praise from the government or automakers hoping to sell EVs — like Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi.

Behyad Jafari, chair of Australia’s Electric Vehicle Council said the Queensland Government was to be commended for its national leadership and supporting the electric vehicle industry. “I encourage all governments across Australia to follow suit, particularly as this support will help to provide motorists with increased choice of cars that are cheaper and healthier to operate.”

 

[Image: Bluedeviation/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)]

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49 Comments on “Australia Building Electric Highway Even Though Nobody There Owns An Electric Car...”


  • avatar
    thelaine

    The new Leaf should be available soon.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Matt Posky
      This silly highway means absolutely nothing to anyone.. It is meaningless “green initiative” by the Queensland Govt
      You are correct EV’s and Hybrids are plummeting here from even a small base

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Florida may have a 4 to 1 ownership in EV’s to Queensland, but it’s population is considerable larger and more importantly it does not have the extreme remote areas of Queensland
        A better comparison would be comparing Queensland to Alaska..how many EV’s sold there?

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          I’m not sure why that would be a better comparison. The sales stats encompass all of Australia, and Alaska has a significantly smaller population while Florida is only short about 4 million people.

          I also don’t have reliable sales figures for Alaska (mainly because they’re so minuscule). However, the director at the Alaska Electric Light and Power Company, said there are about 100 EVs in the city of Juneau. Assuming Anchorage has at least that many (which is likely), those two cities would still place the entirety of Alaska at a higher EV ownership density.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Matt Posky
            Alaska is much better than Florida to compare Queensland.with
            What you reallly missing is the terrain ,, not the minor variations in Population.They are both extreme and rugged places with vast distances between inhabited areas. Not the case with Florida

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I would suspect that a better comparison would be Australia to Canada. Both have similar population numbers which are almost entirely concentrated in larger centres. IIRC 98% of Canada’s population is within 100 km of the USA border and in Australia, I’m assuming most of the population is along the larger coastal cities.
            I don’t recall seeing a pure EV in my town. I see hybrids like the Prius and if it wasn’t for the Taxi fleets, those would be rare too.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          There’s not a State in the US that is a direct comparison to the country of Australia, but the general point is taken. It’s certainly better than what the article does.

          It would be better of the article compared EVs to population, rather than EVs to some random US State.

  • avatar
    A4kev

    Wow the Aussies have some catching up to do.Here’s what our utility Hydro Quebec has been up to:
    They’re a money-making monster and if they stuck their head in this deep it’s going somewhere.

    http://news.hydroquebec.com/en/press-releases/1196/electric-circuit-over-800-charging-stations-in-five-years/

    They’ve been working with North-Eastern states and now you can travel from the Gaspésie Quebec to NYC or probably even DC.to stop and say hi to Donald !

    I’m a serious gearhead by the way.My favourite electric motor is on my pool pump.But there’s no stopping this transformation.The big ball’s rolling.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @A4kev
      Quebec is no way comparable to Queensland. Besides it would be a it diffuclt too have ” an electric highway” that ran across the 2000 miles of the Tasman sea to New Zealand LOL

  • avatar
    stingray65

    2016 – 63% of Australian electricity production is from coal, 21% from natural gas, and 14% renewables (2/3 hydro). With this power source mixture electric cars emit far more greenhouse gas emissions than a modern gasoline or gas-electric hybrid vehicle. Of course they aren’t building the this EV road in South Australia, which is getting between 1/3 and 1/2 of their power from renewables, but also has the pleasure of having by far the most expensive electricity and the most unreliable power in Australia.

  • avatar
    A4kev

    RobertRyan

    “Quebec is no way comparable to Queensland” actually we’re pretty close – about 1.8 Mil.kms.area.
    You guys are real….lucky weatherwise compared to us but we have the cheapest electricity in N.A.maybe the world so that helps.
    I’ll trade kangaroos for moose anyday.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @A4kev
      Been to Quebec, no not evenly remortely close to Queensland. Emphasis on Remote.. Licence Plates are three types, : Queensland, Tropical Queensland, Far North Queensland

      • 0 avatar
        Dann

        @RobertRyan
        Only for personalised plates though, and there’s many more options than that.
        Queensland otherwise has standardised plates throughout the state (Queensland – Sunshine State, with the exception of those stupid Smart State plates that were available briefly a few years ago)

      • 0 avatar
        CrapBox

        Have you driven throughout the province? Most of the roads are suitable only to logging trucks. Also, have you driven on these roads in winter?

  • avatar
    Dann

    @Matt Posky, I hate to nitpick, but its just Cairns, not Cairns City.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @ Dann
      Get the very strong inpressuon that the bulk of the NA contributors have an extremely limited understanding of anything that haopens outside NA

  • avatar
    A4kev

    RobertRyan
    Well I guess I’ll have to damn well get there and perform a thorough evaluation.Rent a V8 Holden and head out.Hear you guy’s have some good beer !

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      I recommend Crown Lager.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      Bring all your money though. Prices are brutal. I actually dread the every other year trip to my MIL’s in NSW at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        Yep. Sydney is one of the top most expensive places in the world.

        Which brings me to this… $3 million to build 18 stations means $16,667 each?

        That’s surprisingly cheap? Further to this, there’s multiple billion dollar projects at any time going on in the major cities and yet a little $3 million project garners attention?

        • 0 avatar
          Drew8MR

          There must be existing electric along the same route I’d guess. That does seem low for either above or below ground cabling if it doesn’t already exist. Materials alone would dwarf this estimate. A transformer, a couple chargers, some shade and a bench sounds about right for 17K.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @TonyJZX
          That is why I mentioned in my first post the whole concept is ridiculous.
          The ” Highway” is a PR stunt for a Govt pushing a Green Agenda. Hopefully not as disasterous as the South Australia ” Experiments”

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Drew8MR,
        I don’t believe prices are that brutal. How long ago were you in Australia?

        Petrol or gas is around 1/3 more expensive. Cigarettes are expensive as is alcohol. But alcohol is tax on alcoholic content, so spirits are taxed more than beer. But, down at my local I buy a pint of beer for $7 or around $5.50US and you don’t tip.

        Eating out is cheaper from what I can gather. To get a decent steak in the US is around $35. Here I can get one from around $25 or $19US.

        If you go to touristy areas, yes it is expensive, but it’s the same in the US or France or anywhere.

        In the end I think it works out around the same, if you don’t smoke.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        “Bring all your money though. Prices are brutal. I actually dread the every other year trip to my MIL’s in NSW at this point.”

        ? Can’t a Tourist rent a four cylinder ‘penalty box’ two door with tiny engine ? .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @A4kev
      If you find one. Holdens abd GM generally have become very rare.
      Unfortunately this blog is not very up to speed with what happens outside NA

      • 0 avatar
        Dann

        @RobertRyan
        I don’t know where you live, but in SE Queensland (and QLD in general I dare say from what I have seen in my travels), V8 Holdens are plentiful.
        Rare they definitely aren’t.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Dann,
          To me it seems there are many comments that Robert Ryan posts that are not quite “Aussie”.

          SE Queensland is loaded with V8s, especially where I live near Ipswich.

          I sit out the back at night having a beer and cigarette listening to the young guys in the subdivisions doing burn outs. That’s every night!

          They have more dollar than sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Dann

            @Big Al from Oz
            Yep they’re all over the place in Ipswich.
            The amount of V8s I see pile out of the RAAF base of an afternoon, on my way home, is rather surprising (or not, I assume the pay is decent.)

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Get the very strong impression that the some of the AUS contributors have an extremely limited understanding of anything that happens inside AUS

      • 0 avatar
        nvinen

        I live in Sydney and there are a lot of Holden Commodores on the road. Many of them V8s. I’m pretty sure I’ve been stuck in traffic before with a V8 Commodore in front of me, behind me and on one side. I see a LOT of SS Commodores (sedans and utes) but also plenty of HSV R8s and even some Maloos and the occasional GTS.

        Now V8 Fords, those are more rare but I do see them fairly regularly, especially the older ones (mainly FPV GS and GTs).

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @nvinen
          Unfortunately will not be around for much longer

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            define ‘much longer’

            we have a realtively good example in that cars like Mitsubishi Magnas and 380s havent been sold for 10yrs but they are still around… and yet they are still on the roads (unfortunately).

            I get your point, Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon V8s will get rarer and rarer but I believe they will still be around in 20yrs time due to the enthusiast crowd.

            I’ll be buying another one before the price goes up too high.

            But apparently Camaros will be sold here and Mustangs are all over the damn place so the death of the V8 is exaggerated…

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @TonyJZX
            Yes and they really are the last of the V8’s(Mad Max Road Warrior)
            Yes they will be collectors cars, but Unfortuntely not built any more

  • avatar
    ydnas7

    Aussie plug in vehicles sales did not drop 90%.

    What happened is that Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV took about 1/2 of the market and Tesla took another 1/3 of the market.

    Everyone else just gets scraps, so yeah, the others had 90% or higher drop in market.

    Tesla Australia is comparable to Infiniti in sales, poor for an established player, but great for a newcomer.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    When comparing the success of EVs in Australia vs the USA I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the difference in incentives. In Queensland, EVs are expensive, there are no government subsidies or rebates for purchase, there is no great saving in registration, there are no HOV lanes where EVs might enjoy special access. Electricity is amongst the world’s most expensive so no workplace, shopping centre, service station or apartment block is likely to offer free or cheap recharging. Also average distances travelled are likely greater.
    Given all these disadvantages it is impressive that any have been sold.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Exactly. EVs, like most “renewable” energy boondoggles, rely on expensive subsidies and mandates. Take them away, and the artificial market collapses. Taxpayers and energy consumers are getting hosed in AUS, California, Germany, Spain, etc. It is disgusting, but it makes the green cultists feel virtuous and benefits a select few.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Spike_in_Brisbane
      Only way EV’s can survive is on subsidies. Take that away and they disappear

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    A waste of tax payer dollars.

    I think I read somewhere Australia sold 976 EVs last year out of 1.2 million vehicles.

    You can see the real enthusiasm for EVs by looking at the Australian free vehicle market. The more socialist markets like in the EU, US, Canada, etc will have more takers as tax dollars are thrown at these waste of resources.

  • avatar
    don1967

    If you build it, Elon Musk and other government-money-chasers will come.

  • avatar
    A4kev

    The more socialist markets like in the EU, US, Canada

    Wow Big Al from Oz that’s pretty brutal ! I knocked my Little Red Book off the coffee table when I read your comment.I’m sorry !

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