Sunday, April 18, 2010

Senator Kim Carr happily subsidises fossil fuel but not electric vehicles

It is very disappointing that the Australian Government continues to provide massive subsidies for fossil fuels - around $9 billion per year - while Senator Kim Carr has ruled out any subsidies for electric vehicles.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The federal government instead believes the future of the car industry lies in the development of existing technology across petrol, diesel and LPG engines.

''It's not our intention to run programs to support any particular form of technology,'' Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr said.

This is yet another example of the failure of the Australian Government and our elected representatives to provide leadership towards a low carbon future.

Electric vehicles can reduce our carbon emissions if they replace fossil fuel powered vehicles, and they can achieve zero emissions when the source of electricity for recharging them is 100% renewable energy.

This is also a missed opportunity to develop an electric vehicle that could be exported around the world.  China, France, Japan, the United States, Germany, Korea and India are all building electric vehicles.

Kim Carr's so called "green car fund" spends $1billion of Australian taxpayers money on very dubious projects such as a "green 6 cyclinder motor" (Ford Australia).

Not surprisingly, the oil companies in Australia regard their profits from fossil fuels to be "safe for 10 years".

Kim, the government should subside the development of low emissions technologies.  You should also remove all subsidies on fossil fuel use.


Grant said...

Afternoon Peter
When somebody can demonstrate to the Governments that supporting EVs will benefit the majority of the population, then I am sure they will bend over backwards to assist.

However as EVs will only benefit a small number of inner city commuters, the Governments need to support other (eg. fossil fuel vehicles) ie. existing vehicle emission reductions.

Remember EVs will need to have a practical range of 400+ km, cruising between 80 - 110 kph before they are practical for anybody other than inner city users. There is also the issue, as you point out that, charging EVs will be done by non renewable energy resources (even non renewable charging stations will not be available for many years due to the cost of building a network of them).

Toyota found that even their hybrid vehicles suffered from a number of problems which was stopping their take up by more than a few dedicated environmentalists, companies prepared to pay through the nose, and Governments, so Toyota has increased the capacity / power of their petrol engine components in the vehicles to make them practical to use outside the inner city. Of course the side effect of this is that, outside inner city driving, they are less efficient than other manufactures diesels.

Anyway, I dont doubt that in 20 years, many of the existing issues with EVs will be overcome, and they will be accepted a normal mode of transport. In the interim, I will stay with my diesel.

Peter Campbell said...

Grant, Melburnians make about 13.5 million personal trips on typical weekday. 10 million of these trips are made by car. The average trip distance is 9km. (Facts from Eddington Report). Electric vehicles could be used for the vast majority of these trips.

For the average 2 (or more) car family, the second and third cars could probably both be electric.

I think we would say a large uptake if any were available at a reasonable price - say around 20 to 30K.

The main point is that the state and federal goverments are doing absolutely nothing to encourage their availablity, manufacture or use.

Even the United States is providing incentives for the use of hybrids.

Hybrids will always be more expensive as they have two motors!

Grant said...

Afternoon Peter
Further to my comments on EVs, it is quoted in Carsguide that Volkswagon have developed EVs, but will not be bringing them to Australia for 2 main quoted reasons,
1. The Government is not working at providing the required infrastructure (which I assume is to provide recharging points, probably due to the $billions required to set up charging points Australia wide)
2. The huge distances required for Australian travel.
However GM is planning to import the Volt to Australia, but the specs (according to RACV) will probably result in record non-sales
a. 64km range (500 when running the standard 1.4/lit petrol engine to keep battery at 30% charge).
b. Price around A$70k
Mitsubishi is planning on importing their EV, but again with the quoted price tag of around $60k, I doubt that they will sell many, and there will not be any wide spread charging infrastructure available for 10+ years.
It appears to me that anybody that is very flush with surplus cash, and lives in the inner city, would be wiser to blow their cash on a hybrid, and just be prepared to continue with emissions when they travel in the country / medium+ distances.