Businesses still in the slow lane for electric vehicles

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson |

Almost one in three businesses have yet to add an electric vehicle to their fleet and more than half say they will not replace all vehicles with the low-emission technology until after 2030, according to a new study.

But regulatory changes could speed up electric vehicle adoption in Australia, according to Accenture, as could encouraging businesses to take a “wider view” of cost savings unlocked by the technology. 

The findings come after sales of new electric vehicles dipped in Australia during October but also during a year of significant growth for the industry.

The consulting firm released its Lead the Charge report after surveying 450 senior fleet managers and decision-makers about electric vehicle adoption. 

Accenture Australia client group lead Glenn Heppell said despite skyrocketing sales worldwide, many companies were still taking a cautious approach to electric vehicles.

“This transition is really complex and most organisations are still in the early stages of electrification,” he said. 

“Our analysis shows there’s still a lot of senior management who don’t see this as a number one priority.”

The report found 30 per cent of companies had yet to add an electric vehicle to their operations, 54 per cent did not expect to transition to a fully electric fleet until after 2030, and 21 per cent expected to make transition after 2035.

In the Asia Pacific, just 35 per cent of decision-makers expected to adopt a fully electric fleet before 2030 and fewer businesses had started the journey.

Mr Heppell said meeting government regulations was still the biggest motivation for businesses to adopt electric vehicles, followed by gaining a competitive advantage, and cutting carbon emissions.

The report found companies could benefit from taking “a wider view of costs and benefits” related to electric vehicles, including savings that could be made in power, maintenance and overall costs. 

Mr Heppell said the findings indicated more ambitious regulatory targets like those in Europe and the US could also have a significant impact on vehicle adoption and emission cuts.

“It’s that classic early adopter challenge around high upfront business costs and an unclear business case,” he said. 

“In a challenging economic environment, the return on investment becomes even more important.”

Concerns around private and public vehicle-charging infrastructure were also identified as hurdles in the Accenture report, in addition to managing electric and petrol vehicles simultaneously.

Despite speed bumps to their adoption in fleets, electric cars have set sales records in Australia during 2023, with more than 71,000 new vehicles sold – an increase of more than 200 per cent. 

Electric car sales fell in October to represent 5.7 per cent of all new vehicle sales, however, down from a high of eight per cent in April.