New buyer tools to boost electric vehicles

Tens of thousands of electric vehicles are predicted to hit Australian roads within five years under a new program launched today to assist fleet buyers.

Evenergi’s Charge Together Fleets initiative, developed in partnership with the Electric Vehicle Council, is designed to make it easier and more affordable for businesses to integrate electric vehicles (EV) into their fleets.

The first part of the program offers free online tools to help fleet buyers develop a business case to purchase EVs. As part of the Charge Together Fleets initiative, the BetterFleets platform allows buyers to assess the environmental and economic aspects of different vehicles and charging infrastructure to develop procurement plans.

Next year, the company plans to release a smartphone app and online portal to help private buyers find their most suitable EV, arrange test drives and set up home charging.

Betterfleet application dashboard view
Betterfleet application dashboard view. Image: Evenergi

Evenergi CEO Dan Hilson says the new tools will offer Australian businesses, councils and organisations informed choices when selecting their next fleet vehicles.

“BetterFleet will reduce the cost of planning a migration by tens of thousands of dollars in many cases and managers should be able to clearly understand the options they have and proceed from that basis,” Mr Hilson said.

Fleet purchases currently make up more than half of Australia’s new vehicle sales. Of the 19.5 million registered vehicles in Australia, ACA research found that about 2.1 million are fleet vehicles.

“On current projections, we anticipate this program will help deliver tens of thousands of EVs on to Australian roads over the next five years. In the future, it will also help businesses to acquire charging infrastructure,” he said.

More than 100 Australian fleets have already signed up to the Charge Together Fleets program. Subscribers receive access to a knowledge base, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, a national procurement initiative and webinar series.

As part of the project, Evenergi is also developing a tool to help electricity distributors manage supplies as a growing number of EVs roll out on Australian roads. Their forecasting framework will factor in the current electricity capacity of electric vehicles, network constraints, travel data, future charging infrastructure, local renewable energy generation and capacity management options.

They expect to launch the planning tool in early 2020, which they say will enable networks to plan for a growing number of EVs and ultimately improve grid security. New South Wales distributor Ausgrid will be the first user.

ARENA is providing $469,380 in funding towards the project, which will build on the findings from the first phase of Evenergi’s Charge Together program.

Launched in South Australia in 2018, Evenergi found that 11 per cent of new car buyers have decided their next car will be electric, but there is a shortage of information to guide them through the purchase journey. They also concluded that managing the transition to electric vehicles well could improve the stability of the grid and play an important role in the heavily distributed energy network of the future. But if charging is managed poorly and adds to demand for electricity during peak periods, the growth of electric vehicles could compromise the grid and increase energy costs.

Australia's cheapest EV Hyudai Ioniq
Hyundai’s newly launched Ioniq is Australia’s most affordable EV. Image: Hyundai

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the new platforms will provide valuable information for people wanting to buy an EV.

“Charge Together Fleets is a free, practical way for fleet managers and businesses to make commercial decisions about the future of their fleet and how they can best transition to EVs with minimal impact on their operations,” he said.

“Taken together, Evenergi’s online platforms will help businesses, consumers, and electricity networks make informed decisions about switching to electric vehicles and managing the potential impact.”

In late August ARENA announced funding for Evie Networks to install 42 ultra fast charging stations at service centres connecting Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as individual points in Far North Queensland, Tasmania and Perth.

ARENA has also provided funding for Chargefox to install 21 ultra rapid charging points on roads linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide, with stand-alone sites north and south of Perth.