When Green Sees Red — EVs and the Future of Transport

I took public transport for the first time in about a year last week.

It wasn’t too bad.

The train was almost empty which meant that there was plenty of personal space, stops were brief at every station, and that I could grab a seat.

While I’m glad to have the option of public transport, to be honest I’m in no rush to go back to using it every day. I’ll probably drive more.

Seems I’m not the only one in thinking this.

How to Limit Your Risks While Trading Volatile Stocks. Learn more.

The Guardian recently ran a poll on it. In Australia close to 45% of people said they are planning to use their car more than before in the future. This compares to 10% who said they expect they’ll be using their car less.

Source: The Guardian

[Click to open in a new window]

I mean, the pandemic and the lockdowns have had quite an impact on travel. For most of it we’ve been stuck at home.

But now that we are starting to reopen, trains and trams are still running empty here in Melbourne, and the roads are filled with vehicles. Seems like people are avoiding public transport, driving more…and sitting in traffic.

I think some of these forced lifestyle changes will stick after the pandemic is over, like working from home a couple days a week, or using our cars more instead of public transport.

A recent report by RAC in the UK suggests that 57% of people surveyed said they now see having access to a car as ‘crucial’. And over half (52%) said they’ll be using public transport less in the future.

In fact, the number of people who say they’ll be using their cars more even if public transport is improved is at an 18-year high…

I mean, really, who misses travelling packed up like a sardine?

It’s not surprising then that as the UK opened up last summer, used car sales soared as people looked to avoid public transport.

But it’s interesting.

Less than a year ago we were looking at a decline in car ownership because of the shared economy, particularly for younger people. But the pandemic has changed things.

But also, because people want to use their cars more at a time when countries are looking at decreasing emissions and pledging to go carbon neutral in a few decades.

It could be the push EVs need to make them mainstream.

Electric Vehicles are the Future of Transport

I mean, so far, even though we’ve heard a lot about EVs, they still make up a small percentage of the global fleet. In 2019 EV sales accounted for just 2.6% of global car sales and they made up about 1% of total global fleet.

But they are growing.

Since 2010 the number of EVs around the world have grown from about 17,000 to 7.2 million, with EV car sales seeing a year-on-year growth of 40% in 2019.

Half of the EVs in the world are in China.

China’s EV sales are expected to reach 1.3 million this year, up 8% from the previous year. And then to increase to 1.8 million next year, up 40%.

So, things for EVs are moving in many parts of the world.

For one, technology is accelerating.

And then, of course, as I wrote last week some governments are expediting the trend. The UK is banning new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030, Norway even earlier, by 2025. There’re looking at reducing emissions with this policy, but also to reduce energy dependence from abroad, to things like oil.

EVs have perks for drivers too.

The upfront cost is higher, but they are cheaper to run and have fewer moving parts which means less maintenance.

In fact, if you want to check out how much you would save with an EV compared to your car, you can do so here.

But it doesn’t look like things will be happening as quickly here in Australia yet.

The press this week got a hold of the ‘Future Fuels Strategy’, a draft of the federal government’s plans for EVs, and it doesn’t look like they’ll get much of a push.

From RenewEconomy:

The leaked discussion paper, obtained by RenewEconomy and its EV-focused sister site The Driven, contained little in the way of new funding or programs, apart from an observation that Australia desperately needs more charging infrastructure and basic information for consumers.

The one initiative that is unveiled is a commitment by Comcar, that operates the federal government’s car fleet, will conduct a two year trial of EVs to assess their potential future use.

The fact that Australia’s EV policy remains only a “discussion document” — despite the promises in the last two years of a detailed policy — has also left the industry and advocates disappointed, but hardly surprised given the Coalition’s disinterest in EVs, and its relentless misinformation during last year’s  election campaign — led by prime minister Scott Morrison and energy minister Angus Taylor.

“It’s actually a do nothing strategy,” Behyad Jafari, the CEO of the Electric Vehicle Council, said.  “It’s a real shame because we know what works. The government has announced another $2.7 billion in fossil fuel subsidies, but on EVs they have got no plan.”

Jafari says Australia, already trailing the world with less than 1 per cent penetration of EVs in new car sales (compared to Noway’s car 80 per cent), will be left further behind just as the global transition to electric vehicles is picking up pace.

And of course, there’s also the little controversy on EV tax in South Australia, Victoria, and NSW.

Still though, even with the lack of policy, EV car sales have been rising in Australia.

According to The Driven, over the last 12 months EV sales were up 10.9%, with more models to choose from. Including Tesla’s estimated deliveries, then EV sales have close to doubled from 2019 year to date.

So even without any policy help there’s still an appetite for EVs. Expect to hear more on this trend in the new year.


Selva Freigedo,
For Money Morning

PS: Invest in the Renewable Energy Boom — Discover three ways you can invest to capitalise on the $95 trillion switchover from fossil fuels to renewables. Click here to learn more. 

Selva Freigedo is an analyst at Money Morning. She has a background in financial economics, but what makes Selva´s experiences different to many are the places she has lived and worked. Born in Argentina, she has also lived in Brazil, the US, Spain, and now Australia. She has seen up close many of the economic phenomena that worry Fat Tail Investment Research readers, like hyperinflation, bank bail-ins and governments burdened with so much debt it cannot possibly be repaid.

Every week, she goes through each article, research note and recommendation produced by our experts around the world to give you information on how to build and protect your wealth. Selva packages the week’s best ideas into one easy to read report: Port Phillip Insider Extra.

Money Morning Australia