Melbourne, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- August 23, 2013 - Electric vehicles are likely to be an important part of Victoria’s transport future, with the government’s EV trial providing the basis for what is expected to be an important new market.

In the mid-term report of the trial, EVs are found to have the potential to provide a net economic benefit to the state of as much as Au$23 billion (US$21 billion) by 2040, mostly as savings to households and businesses in transport costs.

The trial commenced in October 2010 and has involved so far the participation of more than 80 organizations and 120 Victorian households and around 40 corporate fleets driving EVs over 300,000 km. To support this 139 charging outlets have been installed across metro Melbourne.

Among the findings are that for households, the technology will work now. During the trial most households used the electric vehicles as their main transport choice, without having to change anything about how or where they travelled.

Fleet operators also successfully used the cars to showcase their environmental credentials. However, concerns about range, charging and vehicle management reduced the appeal of the trial vehicles for corporate fleet applications.

Electric vehicle charging can be accommodated by Victoria’s electricity network. Drivers will charge their vehicles during off-peak periods if they have a financial incentive to do so. Victoria’s smart meter rollout will allow charging to be managed, and may address other problems by using electric vehicles for energy storage.

However, there are challenges. Currently electric vehicles are expensive. Connecting the vehicles to the electricity network is also costly, with households likely to pay between $2,000 and $3,000 for their charging solution. Renters and residents with shared parking will pay even more, and will need to work with their landlord or fellow residents. On average, fleet operators take around 10 weeks to get a charging solution and public charging outlets take even longer. With only a small number of customers for the foreseeable future, public charging is a difficult business proposition despite being a key enabler for electric vehicle adoption.

The report predicts that by 2020, the electric vehicle operating cost advantage is expected to outweigh the purchase price penalty for most Victorian drivers, when the ‘take-off point’ for buyers will occur. Before then ‘early adopters’ will buy the vehicles as a reflection of their interests in technology and the environment, or to gain a marketing advantage for their organization.