Fuel retailers will soon face their own “Kodak moment”, with experts forecasting electric vehicles will be cheaper than petrol cars as early as 2025.
Tritium chief executive Jane Hunter said electric vehicles would cost less than internal combustion cars within three to four years.
“So that’s about 2025 where that kicks in. BloombergNEF is saying 2025 for light vans and 2026 for passenger vehicles and SUVs,” said Ms Hunter, whose company manages more than 5000 electrical vehicle charging stations globally.
Ms Hunter said electric vehicle prices were falling thanks to the declining cost of batteries, which are one of the most expensive components of an electric car.
“[The battery] has been at 50 per cent of the cost of the EV in 2016. I think that it’s coming down and it’s closer to 30 per cent now.”
Speaking at The Australian Financial Review Infrastructure Summit, Ms Hunter said the discussion around using hydrogen energy to power passenger vehicles “only really occurs in Australia”.
“Across the rest of the world, in Europe and in North America, that conversation is not being had any more.
Hydrogen useful for other forms of transport
“Hydrogen, and particularly green hydrogen, are going to have a very important role to play in long-haul shipping, long-haul aviation [and] industrial uses. But that ship has sailed, so to speak, for passenger vehicles,” she said.
Ms Hunter said there were only 600 hydrogen fuel stations around the world, compared with 1.4 million electric charge points. Only a “handful” of vehicle equipment manufacturers are still investing in hydrogen cars, she said.
Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said there would be “more and more segments of vehicles where the cheapest car you can buy upfront will be the electric car”.
Tritium’s Ms Hunter said service station operators faced their own “Kodak moment” in the years ahead as consumers ditched petrol cars.
“Absolutely it’s a Kodak moment. Some [fuel retailers] are already closing. And you’re starting to see in the United States signs up to sell not just petrol … but also electrification with a price next to it, which is a change we haven’t seen yet in Australia,” she said.
Photo industry giant Eastman Kodak went bankrupt in 2012 because it was too slow to adapt to the shift from analog photography to digital cameras.
Ms Hunter said charging stations were not bound by the same environmental regulations as petrol stations, which meant they could be situated anywhere, including in residential areas and retail outlets.
“So there’s a whole lot of different customer channels now that can operate a fleet of chargers and can sell demand,” she said.
“It’s an entirely disruptive and different model … and that’s one of the exciting things about this technology is it’s decoupled from the fuel forecourt,” added Ms Hunter.
Australia not a priority market
Nexport Mobility founder Luke Todd said the lack of charging infrastructure and the absence of a “clear-cut” national policy were hampering the uptake of EVs in Australia.
“There needs to be a strategy that is defined and that is not moved, or where we find ourselves in a situation where the goalposts are moved continually,” Mr Todd said.
He said electric car manufacturers did not view Australia as a priority market as a result.
The Electric Vehicle Council’s Mr Jafari said NSW and the ACT were the only jurisdictions doing a “good job” of accelerating electric vehicle uptake. He said the lack of a national policy on EVs meant that car makers would not prioritise rolling out new models to Australia.
“If we look across the entire market, we’re still seeing new electric vehicles … being announced to come out in the next year or in the next five years or across the next 10 years.
“And when you look deeper. Those priority lists are these cars will go to Europe, they’ll go to North America, they’ll go to parts of Asia,” he said.
He said Australia should drop its “strange” state-by-state approach and undertake an “Olympic-style bid” to get electric car manufacturers to set up locally and to offer a wider range of vehicles.
Extracted from AFR