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Concerns 'first electric vehicle could be your last'


Soaring insurance premiums are among the challenges facing drivers who want to switch from a conventional car to an electric vehicle, an inquiry has been told.

As costs rise insurers are "opting for write-offs rather than repairs" because of limited access to spare parts and a shortage of mechanics, national president of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association Christopher Jones said in Canberra on Friday.

Bans on charging electric vehicles in apartment car parks were another hurdle, with the association advocating a "right to charge" for everyone.

Stalling the development of a second-hand market, many electric vehicles (EVs) were passing in at auction because the lack of certification of battery health was putting potential buyers off, the first public hearing of a parliamentary inquiry into the transition to EVs was told.


Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association chief executive Stuart Charity said servicing and repairs were being overlooked by governments who were focused on the price and supply of new vehicles.

He said 14 per cent of workshops were EV-ready, and almost a quarter (24 per cent) were planning to be ready in the next 12 months.

But the cost and lack of training - and lack of trainers - was creating a barrier for EV servicing, particularly in regional and rural areas, he said.

"To achieve continued buy-in from the Australian public ... government must ensure that the infrastructure is in place and that people who buy EVs have a good experience and that their first EV is not their last," he said.

National Road Transport Association head of policy Samuel Marks said there was no silver bullet for trucking operators but electric would play an important role in decarbonising freight.

However, the cost barriers were significant, with electric trucks two to three times the cost to run, and charging infrastructure was largely non-existent, he said.

Mr Marks said the government should be looking at financial assistance to support uptake, include hydrogen fuel-cell trucks in any subsidies, and have a national strategy for re-fuelling infrastructure.

"There is a big chicken and egg problem ... people don't want to provide the charging infrastructure because there are no trucks on the road and people don't want to buy the trucks because they can't charge," he said.

Similar to cars and utes, there was also a broader need for skilled mechanics to service future trucks, particularly in regional areas.

He said hydrogen was important, despite the lower efficiency compared to electric trucks, because hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles were capable of carrying more weight and potentially had a bigger range.

The challenge with hydrogen had been the cost of producing the fuel, which made it difficult to get to parity with electric, although subsidies announced in the last budget would help, he said.

Legal barriers to bigger low-emission trucks being on the road were also a concern, with differences emerging in various states.