What is the future of electric cars in Australia?

01 May 2024

Electric vehicles still make up a tiny percentage of the cars on Australian roads. CarExpert estimated that in the first half of 2021, the sale of electric cars accounted for just 1.57% of the market share.1 However, don’t expect this to stay the same for very long. International trends generally show a faster uptake of electric cars than that seen in Australia,2 and once they become more affordable, electric vehicles will almost definitely start to make up an increasing share of cars on our roads.

Which raises the question — how else might they impact our daily lives?

Heating your home with your electric car 

Some electric cars today are already contributing to the hot showers and other energy needs of their owners. Car manufacturers are well advanced in their research to link electric car batteries to home power grids. Mitsubishi released the Dendo Drive House system in 2019 for this very reason, promising a future where our electric cars can help power our homes as our main (but mobile) electrical batteries.

How will this look on a daily basis? Our cars will likely be able to charge up when electricity costs are at their cheapest, then power our homes during peak periods, or even feed back into a shared local grid.  

Known as ‘bi-directional’ charging, this ability to direct electricity from an electric vehicle’s battery into a home is being pursued across the globe, and in Australia it’s being developed under what is known as ‘vehicle to grid’ (V2G) technology. It’ll be a while before we’re all using our cars to charge our homes, but bi-directional charging is already being used by some electric car owners.3

Put your feet up with automated driverless electric cars

Many believe we’re headed towards a future without human drivers. Other major economies will likely introduce this before Australia, but most car brands are well into their research for automated driverless electric cars.

Of all the car companies, many believe Tesla to be the most advanced in its pursuit and sophistication of driverless electric cars. This is because Tesla has its own existing fleet of cars already on the road, which it’s using to build up a complex network of data to ‘train’ its automated driving software. This training process is called machine learning, where a shared knowledge system between all Tesla cars gradually learns to recognise different images of objects on the road (such as a dog crossing a road). Thousands of Tesla cars send through different images of the same type of object, increasing the central network’s ability to recognise an object on the road. This knowledge is then updated instantly and disseminated amongst the fleet of cars on the road, creating real-time learning across thousands of vehicle computers.

Tesla’s goal for automated driverless cars is to mimic the visual systems we rely on as humans as the central tool on which its system operates. Other major car companies have invested heavily in different technologies, such as Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging), to map out an environment in real time. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has rebuffed this approach and believes a car that can mimic the power of human sight is best positioned to navigate a world and a system of roads already built to accommodate human sight. 

A subscriber model for cars 

This might be a while ahead, but some believe a new ‘subscriber’ model for electric cars will eventually be introduced once automated driverless electric cars dominate our roads. It’s thought its adoption will be accelerated quickly as the savings become clear to everyday people.  

Without owning a car, subscribers will be able to call for a car at any point and a nearby vehicle will be selected from an ever-moving fleet of cars that never park but are always on the move. This technology and business model may need automated driverless cars to become the dominant form of transport before it takes off, but it will have large impacts on society if it does happen. 

No car spaces needed

With a road system navigated by automated driverless electric vehicles that operate via complex machine learning and algorithmic systems, our car spaces may potentially become a thing of the past. Homes may not need car spaces as we all sign up to subscription services, while an ever-moving fleet of electric vehicles will remove the need for cars to remain stationary for long periods of time. Research and development is already well under way to create charging stations for electric vehicles. These stations might have hundreds of car batteries charging at any given time, so a car can pull up and have its battery swapped out before it heads back out on the road.

The UK’s RAC Foundation estimates that the average car spends just 4% of its time on the road.4 The rest of the time it spends parked. So, what will happen once our driverless cars are constantly on the move and we no longer need our car spaces? With so much space in our cities dedicated to parking, there will be opportunities to rethink our urban planning. It’s estimated that the equivalent of ten Hyde Parks make up just on-street parking in London.5 What would you do with all that new space?

Will there be competing brands?

With Tesla having made significant advances in its automated driverless cars and with its rejection of technologies being pursued by other car brands, there’s fierce debate about who will dominate the electric vehicle market of the future.

Hyundai developed its E-GMP (Electric Global Modular Platform) to standardise its delivery of electric vehicles, promising 23 EVs worldwide by 2025. Jaguar plans to be all-electric by 2025, Volvo forecasts 50% of its sales in 2025 will be EV sales and Volkswagen expects to stop selling internal-combustion-engine vehicles in Europe between 2033 and 2035.6 Name a major car brand and you can be sure they are investing heavily in this shift. It’s impossible to say if there will be one company that comes out at the top to change the automotive industry forever, or whether we will continue to see competing brands.

Consider car insurance

Considering becoming an electric car owner? When you invest in an electric car, you’ll also want to make sure it’s adequately covered. 

GIO provides four levels of car insurance - Third Party Property Damage; Fire, Theft and Third Party Property Damage; Comprehensive; and Platinum.


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1 Electric car sales surging in Australia - CarExpert

2 Global EV Outlook 2020 - IEA

3 Energy stored in electric car batteries could power your home - ABC

4Cars parked 23 hours a day - RAC Foundation

5London's on-street parking takes up as much space as 10 Hyde park - City Monitor

VW to end sales of combustion engines in Europe by 2035

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