|The EV Trial and Scoping Study are part of a larger effort on low-emission and electric transportation in the state. Click to enlarge.|
The government of the state of Victoria, Australia is developing a five-year trial of electric vehicles—the most comprehensive trial of EVs in Australia so far. The trials seek a range of participants to build a comprehensive electric vehicle system environment, replicating real-world conditions as closely as possible.
The Victorian Government had earlier undertaken a Scoping Study for electric vehicle standards in Australia. This is the first step towards ensuring that the appropriate regulatory framework is in place to promote safe and uninhibited rollout of electric vehicles in Victoria (and Australia). The study was delivered to the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) in February.
The trial. The government issued a call for interested car manufacturers, electricity suppliers and others to participate in January; applications for this close next week (26 March). Private households will be sought through a ballot to be conducted by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV).
At the launch of the call, Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas said the government aimed to have around 30 electric vehicles during the five-year trial as long as they meet the requirements to operate on Victorian roads. The government anticipates the following timeline subsequent to the close of applications:
Consideration. This will involve the design of the program, given the available technologies, which will most accurately reflect real-world conditions. The government would prefer that the trial involve a diversity of users and incorporate vehicles, infrastructure and technology to optimize utilization across participants and provide meaningful data.
Funding and contract negotiations. Negotiations will potential partners will begin in May 2010. The RACV, on behalf of the Department of Transport, will conduct a ballot of private households who have indicated interest in being involved. The Victorian Government proposes that the trial supplement technology deployment costs in early roll-out, rather than by directly purchasing vehicles or infrastructure. Funding is likely to be in the form of grant arrangements; however this may vary depending on the service or product and how it will feature in the trial.
Finalizing contracts. Contract negotiations are targeted to be finalized by mid-2010 in order for the operational phase of the trial to commence in the second half of the year.
Operational phase. From the second half of 2010 through to mid-2014, trial will become active, with electric vehicles operating and data collection underway. Over this timeframe it is likely that a variety of different electric vehicles will be used.
The trials will collect real-world information on the use of electric vehicles in Victorian conditions, including information on:
the market for electric vehicles, both initially and as it matures;
impacts of the use of electric vehicles on driver behavior, recharging, vehicle performance and efficiency; and
the potential implications of electric vehicles for electricity consumption, management of electricity demand, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutant emissions.
Rather than focus on one vehicle, recharge infrastructure system or electricity market operator, the trials will assess how a range of different providers would interact, reflecting the variety of providers likely to develop in the market.
|potential areas for investigation of Australian standards for introduction of electric vehicles. Click to enlarge.|
The scoping study. Overall, the study concluded that a rolling work program should be established for the progressive development of Australian standards in the areas of vehicle design (OEM and aftermarket vehicles); power systems; vehicle recharging; rescue, repair and vehicle recovery; and user information and GHG assessment. Three priority areas for standards development were identified following consideration of the likely nature of the early development of the Australian electric vehicles market:
Development of standards for aftermarket conversions. Given that small numbers of aftermarket vehicles are already being sold into the Australian passenger car market, the study concluded that there is an urgent need to develop a series of standards that ensure these vehicles deliver the same level of safety as OEM vehicles in terms of crash protection; electrical protection; and overall vehicle operation and electrical system durability.
These standards would ideally be developed in the same manner as previously undertaken in respect of LPG conversions in Australia and would largely take account of the quality of the installation.
Development of standards for Level 2 recharging. The study identified an immediate need to develop standards relating to the design of vehicle recharging systems to ensure technology interoperability and successfully manage the inherent risks associated with the future operation of the national electricity grid. It strongly suggested that there is a need to develop specific standards in relation to the standardization of plugs, cords and sockets to be used for vehicle recharging; and the development of standards governing the design and installation of Level 2 home-based charging systems.
Standards relating to the provision of vehicle user and GHG information. The adoption of the operating paradigm constituted by electric vehicles creates considerable challenges in respect to the management of the inherent risks of electric vehicle operation for vehicle users, the vehicle repair industry, road rescue authorities and the community at large, according to the study. Market unfamiliarity with this technology also means that consumers are not aware of how to discern the real-world benefits of electric vehicles and conventional vehicles in terms of emissions performance and energy efficiency (i.e. fuel efficiency versus electrical efficiency).
As a consequence, the study found that there is a need to develop standardized consumer information in the form of minimum consumer information in vehicle handbook and at point-of-charge; vehicle labelling and labelling of high voltage components; and standardized information of relative energy efficiency and GHG performance.
The study also recommended that a national Electric Vehicle Working Group be formed to oversee the national standards development program, largely comprising the stakeholders that participated in the consultation conducted for the study.
It also suggested the formation of a state-to-state working group to investigate opportunities for coordination in respect of (a) regulating/approving after-market conversions, and (b) adoption of consistent approaches to vehicle identification of electric vehicles.