Electric vehicles are a reality for Australia and they need policies that support them: Bryce Gaton


It's 2030 and you've just passed through one side of Sydney, landing in your autonomous passenger electric vehicle.

It took 15 minutes of flight, without emissions and cruising up to 90 km, avoiding all the congestion of the peak hour on the ground below.

What was previously thought of as science fiction will become more like everyday reality with technology being developed and approved at this time.

Transportation, which is currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, is on the verge of an electronic revolution that will make our cities cleaner and more efficient.

In the air, Boeing has recently successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous electric vehicle prototype for passenger vehicles, while Opener has already launched the BlackFly VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) single-seater aircraft. It looked like a giant drone, went on sale in the United States – all for the price of an SUV.

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In Australia, the more conventional two-seater Pipistrel Alpha Electro fully electric light aircraft is available for sale at a retail price of 69,000 euros (110,000 dollars). Six rechargeable lithium ion batteries drive the engine allowing an hour and a half of flight time.

media_cameraA 1947 wagon converted into electricity and solar energy at Byron Bay with engineer Robert Jarvis. Image: Lyndon Mechielsen

Meanwhile, Norway (of course!) Has set a 2040 date for all short-haul air flights to be electric, and the country's OSM aviation has ordered 60 all-electric aircraft to train the next generation of pilots.

Looking ahead to 2030 in the water and Sydney Harbor could be transformed as electric ferries and pleasure boats become the dominant way to "mess up boats". While boarding the new "Ampere" ferry imported from Norway (and operating there since 2015), you can hear the seagulls shouting rather than the engine that puffs and vomits choking fumes.

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This electric ferry has reduced emissions by 95% and the air above the water has a clean and fresh smell. Your ticket was also a lot cheaper than a decade ago, as the costs for the operator as a result of switching to electricity fell by 80 percent.

Alas, the bigger ships are late.

The Spirit of Tasmania has recently confirmed that the new ships currently under construction will still be fossil fuel. However, they will have EV charging facilities on board so that we can charge our electric cars as we cross the Bass Strait.

media_cameraThe owner of the Eco Boats Australia Steven Mullie company in one of the electric rental boats, which operates at Northbridge Marina in Sydney. Image: News Corp Australia

Even electric motors for small boats have become a "thing". A first introduction from Europe to the Australian market was the "eco-friendly" picnic boat rental business that currently operates a fleet of electric vehicle rental boats outside Melbourne's Docklands. Meanwhile, in the heart of Queensland, specialist suppliers of electric motors for electric vehicles Betts Boat Electric offer electric motors for boats.

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But it is on the mainland where Australians could see the biggest difference if the policy reaches consumers' interest. It does not take a great deal of imagination to imagine a world dominated by electric buses and cars and transport networks connected by artificial intelligence, leading to smooth transport and fewer vehicles on the roads .

The electric buses will pass by a short time to a rapid adoption, making the big cities much more livable and with the further advantage of reducing the number of health cases linked to the pollution among the population.

media_cameraThe zero-emission Ursus City Smile hydrogen fuel cell bus generates electricity through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to power the engine that drives the vehicle. Image: iStock

Electric buses are already increasing at a surprising rate in many cities, particularly in China, where a good part of them is built. Being an initiative against pollution and climate, they are hard to beat and 12 major cities (part of the C40 Cities climate action group) have promised that by 2025 they will only add electric buses to their transport fleets public.

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Here in Australia, Canberra is experimenting with electric buses, LaTrobe University in Melbourne has already performed a test of an autonomous electric (and driverless) shuttle bus, and in Adelaide a five-year test of a driverless electric shuttle bus has just begun.

But we must also reduce the number of vehicles that clog our cities and autonomous electric pods offer a realistic solution.

Citroen and Honda are developing "last mile" solutions that are limited to speed and congested. While Melbourne business AEV realized a prototype of the "last mile" urban transport track, presented at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

These autonomous pods can be booked on the route with tracking technology which ensures that passengers are reached in time at the bus stop (where they got off an electric bus without a driver) to deliver you to the door of the workplace.

These transport solutions are not a utopian vision: the reality is that all these developments are in progress or already exist. The transport of tomorrow is behind the corner and signals a greener and cleaner future with emissions below or equal to zero.

That is, if only our politicians are committed to vision, encourage the transformation of energy and buy that ticket to ride a bike.

Bryce Gaton is secretary of the Victorian section of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association.

Originally published as cops Hey, electric vehicles are happening. Get on board

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