Switching to Zero Emission Vehicles
Global adoption of Zero Emission Vehicles will significantly reduce the emissions we all generate while going about our lives. Yet in Australia and North America, ZEV ownership remains low.
ZEVs as % of new car sales in 2021
Source: International Energy Agency
What’s the hold up?
Given the benefits ZEVs will generate, we investigated the reasons for their slow uptake in Australia.
We surveyed people in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland about whether or not they
wanted to drive a ZEV and what, if anything, was stopping them from making the switch.
Our findings, shared in our August 2021 Urban Mobility Trends report [PDF], included:
of respondents would like their next car to be an electric vehicle
Top reasons for wanting to switch to a ZEV: environment benefits and operational cost savings
Top barriers to owning a ZEV: high purchase price and concerns around availability of charging infrastructure
Our Australian and North American roads are used by 8.9 million customers each year.
And while our roads are designed for maximum travel efficiency—and therefore generate less emissions than alternate routes—every trip taken on our roads still generate emissions.
Supporting a ZEV-driven future
As well as reducing our own construction and operational emissions,
we have a role to play in educating customers about the benefits of switching to ZEVs.
We’ve launched a customer experience program, offering selected customers in Victoria the opportunity to take an ZEV for a 10-day test drive. The program is all about creating new advocates who can join us in championing EVs and encourage others to give them a go. And we’re leading by example on the road by adding ZEVs to our own fleet, adding electric vehicle chargers to our incident response kit and looking into how low-emission, electric-powered incident response technology could help keep drivers and our maintenance teams safe into the future.
ZEV barriers will ease over time
Breaking down knowledge barriers to ZEV ownership will, we hope, shift some Australians into ZEVs sooner,
but availability and affordability remain barriers our education campaigns can’t overcome.
Projected price parity between combustion-engine
(fuel-run) vehicles and ZEVs
With price parity a few years off, ZEV ownership is likely out of most Australian’s reach for a few years to come.
But there are still things we can all do to reduce our transport emissions now.
Eco-driving is a driving technique that reduces road-travel emissions.
By applying eco-driving techniques, all motorists can reduce their fuel consumption, their emissions and vehicle wear-and-tear.
Eco-driving behaviours can save you more than $120 a year on fuel.
Driving outside peak hours reduces congestion and start-stop traffic patterns associated with increased emissions.
If it’s possible to avoid travelling at peak times, you can save on travel time, fuel and emissions.
Building infrastructure such as roads is resource and energy intensive. Road operations use comparatively less energy, but some operating systems (such as lighting and tunnel ventilation) do use significant amounts of energy and generally operate 24/7.
In 2020 Transurban committed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Now we’re doing everything we can to ensure we meet this target. We’ve already begun the transition to 100% renewable energy (find out how we plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050).
Efficient road design reduces emissions
We’re also working on designing and building more sustainable infrastructure. The design of a road—elements such as its gradient, curvature and traffic light requirements—can have a big impact on the greenhouse gases emitted by the vehicles using it. For example, road designs that support free flowing traffic—such as the roads we operate—reduce fuel and greenhouse gas emissions when compared to alternate stop/start routes.
Reducing road construction emissions
The materials used to build transport infrastructure such as concrete, steel and asphalt are also carbon intensive. Cement, a key component of concrete, accounts for 90 to 95 per cent of concrete emissions. To make cement, limestone is heated to up to 1400°C. This converts the limestone into the lime used in cement. This heating process is CO2-production intensive: on average, 0.87 tonnes of carbon dioxide are emitted to manufacture just one tonne of cement.
We’re now working with climate-change think tank, Beyond Zero Emissions and with suppliers including Boral to investigate options for reducing the carbon-intensity of cement manufacturing.