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Electrifying the transport network

The electrification of our transport network — a future where electric vehicles (EVs) abound — will be central to a looming shift in how we move around our cities and regions, and how we manage the health of our communities.

In 2011, approximately 2,500 Australian deaths were attributed to air pollution, at an estimated economic cost of $11 billion.

Tailpipe emissions from Australian vehicles are, per capita, 44 percent higher than the average of other OECD nations, with 43 million tonnes being emitted from cars on Australian roads each year.

Vehicle electrification will play a major role in reducing harmful vehicle emissions. This is something RAC continues to champion, including through the RAC Electric Highway®, a network of 11 fast-charging stations between Perth and WA’s South West. The Electric Highway allows EV owners to traverse more than 520km of the State unencumbered by range anxiety – the fear of inadequate electric vehicle charging infrastructure preventing continuous travel.

The move toward electric vehicles is complex. As with any change of this magnitude, many challenges exist. The availability of charging infrastructure (and the time to charge), reform of motoring taxation, and the transition of employment along the various transport supply chains are all key. An active market for electric vehicles themselves is also critical – the lack of EV choice in the Australian market remains a major issue and more must be done to support and expand the range and to increase consumer demand through smart incentives and market signals.

All of this must also be underpinned by an ongoing transition to a cleaner power grid, which means having a sensible plan to transition to more renewable electricity sources.

These challenges are considerable, and they will not be overcome overnight. Therefore, we must recognise the inevitability of the change needed in the transport sector and act now to ensure we are best prepared to embrace the benefits of an electric future.

Most important is that we approach this pivotal moment seriously and enthusiastically. To do otherwise — to delay or to distract — would deny West Australians the option of a healthier and more convenient future.

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