CANBERRA, AAP – Stop blaming the consumer for not wanting electric cars, a summit has been told.

The world may be years away from mass take-up of electric trucks, vans and tractors but electric cars are accelerating in the biggest economies, forecasters told a BloombergNEF summit on Tuesday.

Chelsea Sexton, advisor to the United States’ cheap EV loan program that funded Tesla, Ford, and Nissan, said the supply of vehicles is key.

Car makers are shifting from “we have to go electric” to “we want to go electric”, Ms Sexton said.

“We have largely been blaming the consumer for 20 years inappropriately.”


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Speaking from the industrial heartland of Detroit, General Motors forecaster Aaron Cohen provided a road map for an all electric future.

Getting communities ready with charging at home, at work and on the go is essential, along with making people love new models.

“Like any revolution, this one will be created by market demand,” Mr Cohen said.

“Most consumers want over 300 miles (500 km) of range, a broad variety of body sizes, styles and prices, styling that’s attractive, innovative, luxurious and sporty, convenient public fast-charging – even though most customers will charge at home – and pricing that’s closer to gas vehicles,” he said.

A show of hands for the crowd at the San Francisco-based summit showed about 40 per cent were EV drivers.

Smart policy from governments with consumer incentives to cut prices, so first movers among car makers are not penalised, and investment tax credits to support manufacturing were also recommended.

In Australia, advocates have called for the controversial luxury car tax to be scrapped for electric and hybrid cars to help price parity and drive demand.

State and territory governments have a range of incentives in place – subsidies, rebates and stamp duty waivers.

The surge in rooftop solar is also seen as a huge benefit to charging capability, in Australia and elsewhere.

Chief economist at Cox Automotive Jonathan Smoke said price parity was probably not the near-term issue, at least in the US, as the gap in up-front costs for EVs narrows.

What has surprised him in the past year is the role of computer chips in the success of electric vehicles.

Tesla gained market share by managing the disrupted supply chain and outperformed by using more expensive and more powerful chips when many manufacturers were struggling to get them, he said.

“It’s a good lesson in how ironically the newer technology can actually skip over some of the legacy challenges, but also a reminder that supply is likely to dictate the performance that we see in the year ahead as well.”

Fears of electric grid outages, cybersecurity threats, and battery fires were also raised.

“We’re working on all of them,” US Energy Department advisor Ms Sexton said.

“But we have to keep some perspective around the Chicken Little perception of these things – every time there’s a battery fire we hear about it, but there’s 180,000 gas-car fires in this country every year.”