Electric Vehicle Charging and Leadership in Freo.

There has been some interesting discussion around electric cars and EV charging  stations with the West, the Fremantle Herald and others running pieces on the RAC’s “electric highway” including Fremantle’s new fast-charging station planned for Marine Terrace.

The first thing I would say is that while electric vehicles or EVs are not going to make our cites more sustainable single- handed; they are nevertheless going to be an essential part of the low carbon, sustainability transition.

What have been the arguments against this investment then?

Not enough EVs?  One of the arguments has been that the take up of electric cars in Australia is too slow to make this a worthwhile investment by the City of Fremantle and the RAC. It is true that Australia is a bit of a laggard when compared to the rest of the rich world in relation to EVs. Last year in Australia, just under 2000 electric cars were sold. Not many when you compare that to the 1.1 million new cars sold in Australia last year. But the evidence is that this is about to change rapidly. For example and as reported in the Australian today , major car companies like Volvo “are going all in on EVs”. Volvo predicts 10 per cent of it total sales, or 80 000 vehicles, will be plug in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) or electric vehicles (EV) by 2020. “Throughout Volvo’s interrogation of the future, there was never a doubt in the direction of travel: PHEV and EV propulsion will rise and gradually displace petrol and diesel propulsion in the next decade. No one expects the reverse. It’s just a matter of setting your sails and when.” For more info see: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/motoring/electric-dreams-of-volvo-xc90-t8-hybrid-suv/news-story/ba18d6c8841ba2ea968ef5eac017031d

So while there is no doubt that Fremantle is an early adopter in supporting EVs and charging I think this places us in good stead going forward. We are a sustainability leader and this is jus tone part of that,

Not for local governments to fix? A second criticism is that this is not something that a local government like Fremantle should be doing. It should instead be left to the state and federal government and private sector to support EVs. If I thought that something was happening at these other levels I would happily suggest Fremantle step back and let them do it. Instead we have a major failure at other levels of government.

As The Business Insider reported this week “ A report came out in July last year that said Australia’s “do nothing” approach of up-taking electric cars could cost the local economy over $350 million in the next 20 years, on top of the one million tonnes of carbon emissions that will be added to the environment.”

“Only the ACT offers stamp duty reduction for EV purchases and other states are lagging behind here and there are no federal tax incentives for EV ownership either.”

In comparison,  you check out the situation in the USA and Europe, where electric vehicle adoption is rising fast, federal and state governments are offering between $US7K-10K worth of tax offset incentives in the US and up to 50k Euros over 3 years in countries like the Netherlands.

The Business Insider reported “Australia is the ONLY first world country that does not offer substantial incentives to offset the upfront purchase costs of electric cars.”

The tax incentives will likely pay off in spades too, with the likely saving to the health budget in Australia from reduced respiratory illness over time, which will be enormous. It is in fact air quality that drives much of the presence of zero emission vehicle ownership incentives in the USA and Europe now. For more info see:



Finally, this does take us to a broader issue around what is local government leadership.  I believe local government leadership is in part about filling the gaps and doing important projects that other levels of government or the market are not providing. Whether it be in social services (such as providing a women’s refuge or youth services that other level of government are not providing) or in providing infrastructure that others will not ( ie providing renewable charging stations for electric vehicles where there is a lack of State and Federal Government support)

Filling the gaps doesn’t mean that local government has to continuously keep doing these things but instead that it provide them until it is mainstreamed or another entity takes it over (such as happened with the Fremantle’s women’s shelter). In time I expect others will provide charging station for EVs but in the meantime I am happy to see Fremantle partner with the RAC and be a leader in one of the steps towards a more sustainable city.

150825 EV Festival A3 HiRes

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

11 Responses to Electric Vehicle Charging and Leadership in Freo.

  1. maquismail says:

    Great leadership from Freo in the support for EVs for some years now, and for getting involved in the eHighway.
    The RAC have done a great job with the eHighway – in just over a year from deciding to proceed with the project it is nearly complete. The question is: “Now what?”. All of the chargers on the eHighway will cede to the various local government admins, to be managed by them but there is no clear ongoing strategy for coordinating and growing the charger network.
    There is an obvious opportunity for the State Govt to step up to this role and use the great start that the RAC and others such as Freo have made to create a coordinated, expanding WA electric vehicle network.
    There are great benefits to these vehicles in terms of pollution and health benefits, and in terms of resilience and reduced oil dependency.

  2. Brad have considered getting one of the large grocery stores in Freo installing these as the have in other shopping districts? It would save us the cost have the same outcome…….thanks Tony

    • Tony
      This is a good suggestion and it won’t be long before the Westfield’s and Garden City’s of WA are installing EV charge points to attract more customers.

      Freo’s challenge is that we don’t have big shopping centres under one one ownership like the malls do. That is is worth raising, as you suggest, with the Coles and Woolworths around Freo to see if they are interested in this option.


  3. Andy says:

    Great leadership comes from making good sensible decisions for the benefit of all not just a minority. The difference is that business does not waste money when the economics don’t stack up. It seems Fremantle council does not care about spending ratepayers money as long as it looks good from a marketing perspective to sell the smoke and mirrors of sustainability.
    Let’s put it in perspective from someone who works in this industry. We are talking electric car sales of only one tenth of 1% for the total industry vehicle sales ( not even viable to the dealers that sell them. Manufacturers are still trying to clear 2012 stock). It is also declining nationally and by state year on year. Just not viable!

    • Andrew
      Happy to make a bet with you. That in two years from now electric vehicles sales will be up. If I lose I will donate $100 to St Pats. You willing to match me?
      cheers, Brad

      • Lionel says:

        Andy makes a valid point and you just want to make a wager? Of course sales will be up in two years, that doesn’t mean you should be spending our rates on servicing a tiny minority. Even if sales were equal to ICE vehicles, you still shouldn’t be spending our rates on this.

        The irony here is that your article talks about local government leading the way, when in another recent post a commenter made a valid point about the COF cleaning up all the broken asbestos around the place and your reply was that it is a State issue.

        Could you please tell us who will be paying for the ongoing costs of charging the vehicles at this station?

      • Lionel
        I made the wager because Andrew was trying to infer EV sales would go down. In contrast I believe this will be a quick growing minority and the quicker it grows the better and happy to help fund this with the RAC. Our will be off-grid and use solar and batteries as part of freo’s commitment to carbon neutrality so ongoign costs will be extremely low.

      • Andy says:

        As a rule I don’t gamble but to help a good cause I can make an exception.
        What are the terms for the calculation of up? Are we talking year on year for vehicle fuel type? what percentage? Does just 1 vehicle up on where we are today qualify or does it need to be a minimum quantity? Obviously a couple of vehicles up on the minuscule numbers now won’t change the world.
        You must know something I don’t or you are a really good poker player.
        Let us know the rules of engagement and happy to play your game.

      • I don’t normally gamble either but it is for a good cause.

        Let’s keep it simple – if electric car sales are up year on year you donate, if they are down or entirely flat I will.

        cheers, Brad

  4. Angeldust says:

    Good to see a government leader with vision.
    People complaining that electric charging stations are an expense are the same to complain first when their health will suffer from respiratory disease. It’s a classic symptom of having your cake and eating it too.
    As an EV owner, with EV owner friends, I can confirm that places with destination chargers are preferred on our list of entertainment venues. And yes we are more than happy to provide an economic benefit to the area where the charger is located. We like people who support the vision of a cleaner future. We put our money where our mouth and ideals are. We are driving EVs not only because they’re awesome, but also because we like having healthy children and healthy cities. We also do not enjoy financing Middle Eastern wars.
    Keep it up Mayor, I wish my city had someone as forward thinking!

  5. Patrick says:

    I agree.Thank you Brad..my girlfriend and I will come by your office soon ..we’d love a chat

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