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How electric transportation is driving change across Australia

The future is looking electric. Electric cars are booming around the world. Holiday-makers are e-scooting down alleyways and along boardwalks. School mums and dads are jumping on e-bikes to drop off and pick up the kids. Electric transport is the way of the future, but the details and supply differ from country to country and Australians are still wondering when electric assets will permeate the market.

Electric cars

Usage and sales of electric cars varies worldwide, but in most countries there is an upwards trend of both, with governments around the world implementing a diverse range of programs to ensure the trend continues. In the last 12 months the number of pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles has grown month-to-month, with January 2023 sales totaling 12.8% of all vehicle purchases.

The world’s first electric car was built in 1832, but in today’s time it would be best described as an electric carriage. Locomotives came next, and by the early 1900s one third of all cars in the USA were powered by electricity. But then Henry Ford introduced the Ford T Model. It was affordable, easy to refuel, and motor cars became the way of the world. Fast forward to the 1960s and 70s and we start to see petrol prices soar, and thereby a renewed interest in electric cars. The world’s first rechargeable lithium-ion batteries were invented by M. Stanley Whittingham and then decades later in 1997, Toyota unveiled the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car, the Toyota Prius. 

Today, demand for electric and hybrid vehicles far exceeds supply, specifically in Australia. Many Australian buyers want to get onboard the electric train but face barriers of affordability and supply.

Electric bicycles

Bicycles featuring integrator electric motors are not new, the first electronic bike patents appeared in the late 19th century. The electric bike did not, however, become popular like electric cars did when they were first created, and its popularity only grew after Yamaha and Panasonic developed new technologies in the 1990s. The manufacturing and use of electric bikes had huge growth between 2002 and 2004, across world markets such as China, mainland Europe and USA. E-bike schemes have been set up in cities all around the world, and people are very much encouraged to get around on an e-bike in many global locations. 

Today e-bikes are the top-selling electric vehicle in certain country markets. In China, e-bikes outnumber all cars (not just e-cars), and in the USA more than 880,000 e-bikes were purchased in 2021, compared to 608,000 electric cars and trucks. Across Europe there are cities where the dedicated cycling lanes are filled with e-bikes – Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Utrecht. It’s not just the road bike that has enjoyed the electrical revolution, with e-mountain bikes (eMTB) also taking off recently.

The market, which was worth about $41 billion in 2020, is expected to expand nearly threefold over a decade and is projected to be worth more than $120 billion USD by 2030, according to a report from Vision Research Reports.

Electric boats

This ship hasn’t sailed, although there are plenty of electric boats on the water. Hybrid boats are not a new invention, but in the last couple of years a sort of revolution has taken place. Only a few years ago buyers were limited to conventional diesel and petrol-powered models, but now there are enough electric models on the market to give buyers a decent amount of choice. 

Because electric boats require no fuel, they are much less likely to create pollution and adversely impact waterways and marine life. Their motors are silent and odour-free, making them a great option for wildlife watching, fishing or simply a relaxed boating adventure.  Sustainable sailing sure has a ring to it. 

Electric buses

Electric buses are being used more and more often in public transport fleets around the world. China led the charge, but now we are seeing an uptake across other continents as the world moves towards a greener future. In Europe, a total of 1,767 electric buses were registered in the first half of 2022, continuing the trend of increasing electric bus registrations over the last few years. 

According to ING’s All aboard Europe’s electric bus revolution report, 2,450 new all-electric buses are forecasted to enter the European public transport space in 2023, and this number will grow to more than 4,000 in 2025. The UK and Germany are expected to run the largest e-fleets. It is predicted that one third of Europe’s public transport buses will be emission-free by 2030. 

In Australia we’re only just getting started in this space. NSW’s Zero Emission Buses Transition Plan aims for a completed transition in Greater Sydney by 2035, in Outer Metropolitan regions by 2040, and in Regional NSW by 2047, with the first stage of the transition beginning in 2023. The Queensland government is working towards an e-bus future, with 17 new electric buses being added to the transport fleet in south-east Queensland, with the first e-bus scheduled to start services in February 2023 before the other 16 progressively join the network. From 2023, the aim is for all new buses on the South East Queensland urban network to be zero-emissions buses.

Queensland is also home to Australia’s first 100 percent electric bus depot. Gold Coast’s Currumbin depot is powered completely by renewable energy, boasting a large solar array, base load metering, onsite energy storage system, grid connection and vehicle charging. It’s a start, with other States and Territories slowly following, but as it stands, only 0.1 per cent of buses in Australia are electric, according to a report released by the Australia Institute in October 2022. Let’s hope we can charge forward together a little quicker.

There’s more

This is just a snapshot of what is happening around the world, but there are many other types of e-vehicles and exciting initiatives in development. E-snowmobiles and e-safari vehicles are changing the way we travel the world, not only offering guests an opportunity to choose a greener way to travel, but also providing an experience that truly is about immersion. With no noise or fumes around, the impact on both wildlife and the environment is very minimal, which makes for a more meaningful and sustainable travel experience. 

Renting a car is a popular way to explore a new destination, and governmental bodies and car rental companies around the world are working on initiatives and programs that highlight and promote the use of electric cars. Although there’s a long road ahead, it seems everyone is on the same path and doing their best to charge towards a greener future. 

Ready to live an electric life? Pickles auctions feature a huge range of quality electric vehicles across Australia. If you are ready to make the switch to electric powered drives, check out the late model EVs currently available at Pickles.

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16 Feb