Popularity of electric vehicles to demand industry shift

Australians are being urged to cut down their ownership of fossil fuel-based cars as an electric vehicle (EV) presence will arrive “much sooner than later”, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Operating agent for the IEA’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technology Collaboration Taskforce, Bert Witkamp, said at the Paydirt 2019 Battery Minerals Conference in Perth yesterday that the perception of EVs had changed rapidly over the past three years.

Studies show the perception around the mooted transition to EVs has already moved from ‘optimistic’ to ‘realistic’ in the space of just one year.

This change is expected to impact strategies for miners, processors and suppliers of minerals, requiring much greater transparency in market information addressing cobalt, graphite and lithium shortages.

“We need much more clarity amid the facts, myths and fiction around battery component materials as there is already considerable research work going on to find alternatives to batteries based on these ingredients,” Witkamp said.

“The electric vehicle market captured two million in unit sales in calendar 2018 and there are now five million electric cars on the road.

“Ten years ago, for example, the Tesla EV car model did not exist but has emerged last year by mid-year as one of the top selling luxury cars in the United States by far.”

Data pertaining to global sales of EVs in 2018 showed that 65 per cent of them were fully electric vehicles, not the electric-plug-in hybrid choices, indicating another dramatic shift in market sentiment, according to Witkamp.

In Australia, 8 per cent of households have no car, 36 per cent have one car and 37 per cent have two cars. Statistics show Australians on average drive their car 38 kilometres per day.

While the historic barriers to EV change still exist, particularly around high purchase costs, limited driving range and limited charging infrastructure, they are rapidly changing.

Price parity between EV and fossil fuelled cars, a driving range in excess of 600 kilometres, and fast charge rates of just three minutes delivering a 100 kilometres range can be expected within five years.

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