November 13th, 2019
The first light electric vehicle (EV) to be available for test driving in the Hills is generating a buzz that shows where the market is heading, according to dealer Graham Jarrett, owner of Jarrett Nissan in Bridgewater.

He said it was a “no brainer” to stock the new Nissan Leaf in his showroom four months ago.

“The Adelaide Hills is the perfect place to market a vehicle like this because it suits the lifestyle,” Graham said.

“It’s amazing to drive, no noise, less maintenance, no servo stops, it just makes sense.”

Graham said the car had been a hit with test drivers who wanted to make environmentally conscious decisions.

“There is a growing demographic who are interested in embracing new technology,” he said.

“This car has several power-saving modes for maximum efficiency including the e-brake mode – where the motor goes in reverse when your foot isn’t on the accelerator which acts as a brake and recharges the battery.

“It’s a different pattern to filling up at a petrol station – I relate it to charging a smart-phone, something people instinctively do when they’re at home now.”

Salesperson Simon Wise said that despite his V8 background, the cars performance was impressive over long distances.

“The battery is easily equipped for the weekly run down to the city and back with a range of 270km,” Simon said.

“You don’t need to time petrol price shifts and fill it from empty, just charge a bit here and there.

“A full charge at home costs about $8 on the electric bill.

“It’s more affordable than previous EVs at $55,000 including the charging cable.”

Bron McNab, chair of the local sustainability group Transition Adelaide Hills, said the spread of EVs in the Hills had major environmental benefits.

“From a sustainability perspective, this is the future of cars because they don’t have the associated polluting emissions when running which lowers their impact on the greenhouse effect,” Bron said.

“When you combine this with our leading solar uptake, you have the potential to run vehicles without relying on ongoing emissions and it circumvents the security risks of petrol availability and price.

“Councils could provide EV charging stations and also do more to educate residents and businesses on the benefits of these new technologies as well as general sustainable behaviors.

Hills councils have pledged to install charging stations in the near future.

“The council is currently investigating sites for EV charging stations as per the recently endorsed climate change action plan and the environment strategy endorsed in 2018,” Greg Sarre, economic development manager from Mount Barker Council said.

Adelaide Hills Council runs two charging stations at Norton Summit and Gumeracha and intends to install more at “key strategic locations” for council and public use.

Graham agreed that governments needed to do more to encourage EV purchases and that distance anxiety had been a concern for potential buyers.

“I’ve seen the amazing embrace of these cars in Europe, in Amsterdam they even have dedicated EV charging parks right throughout the city.”

“Cars like these are the future, something eventually everyone will embrace and we can’t bury head in sand.”

A federal senate select committee on EVs released its report in January, showing that national EV uptake was far behind many other countries.

Nationally, EVs made up only 0.2 per cent of new car bought in 2017, compared to 2.2 per cent in China and 39 per cent in Norway. Of this figure, 63 per cent were bought by business, 34 percent by private buyers and only 3 per cent by governments.

The committee heard that reasons for the suppressed uptake included less stringent vehicle emission standards, a lack of direct purchasing incentives and federal government policy.

Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick said “more needs to be done” to accelerate EV uptake and that the government couldn’t afford to “put it in the too hard basket”, amid announcements from major manufactures that they would scale back and cease production of internet combustion engine cars – with Volkswagen Group’s next generation due in 2026 being its last.

“It's clear the world and manufacturers are transitioning,” senator Patrick said.

“This transition must be embraced by current and future Australian governments.”

Since then, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $50.2 million in funding for a national electric charging highway scheme connecting Adelaide to Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane – with 42 sites offering 15 minute 100km charges for two cars at a time.

While infrastructure works like these are intended to allay distance anxiety, purchasing incentives remain elusive.

By comparison, the UK government offers rebates of up to £3,500 ($6,500) for new EVs including the Leaf, with dealerships incorporating the discounts into their retail prices.

At the last state election, Labor promised to become the first government in Australia to provide EV purchasing incentives, waiving stamp duty and five years of registration fees.

Victoria currently offers $100 yearly registration discounts for EVs while the ACT offers a 20 per cent registration discount and a waiving of stamp duty.

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