Fully switching to electric vehicles within the next decade and a half could save Australians up to half a trillion dollars, new research suggests.
Deloitte analysis commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation shows $492 billion could be saved if Australians move completely to clean-energy electric cars by 2035 and use public buses more frequently.
The report examines savings to be made from the current cost to the Australian community of noise pollution, water pollution, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
There are still significant savings to be made under less ambitious scenarios.
Australia could avoid costs of $232.6 billion between 2022 and 2050 if all current state and federal transport and climate targets are fully implemented, including electric bus targets.
That scenario estimated 26 per cent of Australians would be driving electric cars by 2030.
The current approach to road transport will cost Australia $865 billion between 2022 and 2050, the researchers conclude.
That is based on air pollution setting us back $488 billion, greenhouse gas emissions by $205 billion, and noise and water pollution making up the rest.
Deloitte Access Economics partner Eamon McGinn, the report's principal author, says the potential benefits of electric vehicles are "truly staggering".
"Transport is a significant contributor to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, and we're now at a real inflection point where we can realistically look at the benefits from a fast and complete transition to EVs in this country," Dr McGinn said.
The report suggests looking at electric car mandates, public transport upgrades, and funding reform to improve take-up of the cars.
Funding reform could mean using fuel tax revenues collected by the federal government to provide incentives for electric vehicles and accompanying infrastructure.
"If Australian leaders are looking for ways to cut emissions this decade and are serious about reaching net zero by 2050 then setting strong policy on electric vehicles is a vital and practical solution," ACF Economy and Democracy Program manager Matt Rose said.
"Australia is getting left behind when it comes to electric vehicles and it makes no sense when there are obvious savings to be made."
Australian Associated Press