Not selling – suburban transport EV dream.

The evidence to date suggests the socio-economic structure of suburban life is partly to blame for car dependent suburbanites rejecting electric vehicles. It might also explain the lack of patronage for City of Sydney recharging facilities infrastructure. And, now we have a political bidding war for public infrastructure in Western Sydney it will be even more difficult, or more correctly a major barrier is being put up to suppress the EV market even more.

The reference to City of Sydney patronage can be read on a previous post – Posted on February 27, 2013 by co2land – ‘Not selling – no better place to charge your EV!’ In particular the quote  “the first two power point stations were installed in September 2012: ”We haven’t had a customer yet,” but there have ”been a few drop-ins”.

When CO2Land org was researching the uptake of EV’s in suburbia it started with the premise of electric vehicles being a favoured solution, the dream technology is another way of putting it, and the best fit to solve our a families transport challenges and mitigate them from the economic and environmental impacts from oil dependence and how our lifestyles pose significant environmental threats. No such evidence exists that it will happen this way. The sales of EV’s are not happening as hoped, and the technology use indicates the problem occurs in a social context, and seemingly the discussion of electric vehicles has not included suburban social patterns among which electric vehicles might be adopted.

That said, someone else said, on 14 Feb 2013, we have looked deeper for the reasons and provided evidence . This was taken up by The Conversation and we quote “what Neil Sipe, Terry Li and I have assembled suggests the socio-economic structure of Australian suburbia, in combination with the distribution of public transport infrastructure, constitutes a major barrier to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, especially among the most car-dependent households.

Relying on electric vehicles as a solution to energy and environmental problems may perpetuate suburban social disadvantage in a period of economic and resource insecurity.

Australia’s five largest cities are the most car-dependent national set outside the United States. Our previous studies (Dodson and Sipe 2007; 2008 have shown that outer suburban residents, especially those with lower socio-economic capacity, are among those most exposed to the pressures of higher transport fuel prices.

Future transport fuel costs are likely to be even higher (currently oil is approximately US$100 per barrel). Unconventional oil sources such as shale or tar sands may be abundant, but they have much higher production costs than conventional light crude. Their current production boom is underpinned by expectations that global oil prices will remain high or increase further over the long term.

Higher oil prices and the need to constrain carbon emissions will likely lead to much higher transport fuel costs than have prevailed in the past decade.

Electric vehicles are often presented as the most likely way to resolve this transport conundrum. Australia’s 2012 Energy White Paper alludes to a transition to electric vehicles as the economy of conventional fuels wanes.

Much of the Energy White Paper and the rhetoric around electric vehicles assumes an unproblematic transition – consumers will change their behaviour in response to price pressures. There is little discussion of potential barriers and impediments to this comforting, convenient narrative.

It makes sense that households who are most car dependent and least able to afford higher fuel prices would be the most eager to switch to an electric car. But, it turns out, the social structure of Australian suburbia means these groups are poorly placed to lead such a transition.

In our study of Brisbane we created datasets linking vehicle fuel efficiency with household socio-economic status. In our analysis, high vehicle fuel efficiency, including hybrids, serves as a proxy for future electric vehicles. We linked motor vehicle registration data with the Green Vehicle dataset on fuel efficiency, plus travel and socio-economic data from the ABS Census.

Our analysis builds a rich picture of how the spatial distribution of vehicle efficiency intersects with suburban socio-spatial patterns, using Brisbane and Sydney as case studies.

We found that the average commuting distance increases with distance from the CBD while average fuel efficiency of vehicles declines. So outer suburban residents travel further, in less efficient vehicles, than more centrally situated households. Outer suburban residents are also likely to be on relatively lower incomes than those closer in.

The result is those living in the outer suburbs have relatively weaker socio-economic status but are paying more for transport. For example, one-third of the most disadvantaged suburbs in greater Brisbane also have the most energy-intensive motor vehicle use.

A socially equitable transition to highly fuel efficient or electric vehicles ought to favour those with the highest current exposure to high fuel prices. Yet our research finds it’s not likely to happen.

26 February 2013, Jogo Dodson, Associate Professor and Director, Urban Research Program at Griffith University “

CO2Land org still maintains it is the politics that drives community attitudes and where it may be immoral, it is not illegal. Thought of today – more politicians face charges with illegal activities each year than illegal immigrants! Source ABC.

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