Regions get chance to charge into the future

The NRMA is building a comprehensive fast charging network for electric vehicles across regional NSW and the ACT.

It is where 40 per cent of our members reside.

Across Australia there are fewer than 10,000 electric vehicles on our roads.

Electric vehicle sales only make up 0.2 per cent of new car sales - less than a rounding error.

Take-up of electric cars in this country is now the lowest in the world.

The world is moving quickly towards a future when electric vehicles will play a much greater part in meeting society's transport needs. Nations across Europe and Asia have announced plans to introduce bans on the sale of petrol and diesel cars.

Readers of this column might be asking at this point, why the NRMA would build regional infrastructure for a fleet of cars that are almost non-existent.

The world is moving quickly towards a future when electric vehicles will play a much greater part in meeting society's transport needs.

Nations with some of the most established car manufacturing industries across Europe and Asia have announced plans to introduce bans on the sale of petrol and diesel cars.

Most popular cars on our roads will be available in electric form - this includes vehicles vital to living in regional areas, such as utes, vans and 4WDs.

We don't manufacture cars in this country and the models we buy today will all become electric in the next few years.

Across almost every sector, regional communities are the last recipients of new, and often old, services and technology.

How many communities outside Sydney are still waiting for decent internet coverage?

This technology, and its benefits, should not be restricted to our cities.

Hence the NRMA's commitment to invest in a network outside metropolitan areas.

The benefit to the hip-pocket of our members alone will be significant, with substantial fuel savings and eventually lower up-front costs.

Nor should owners of these vehicles be prevented from enjoying the amazing tourist destinations across regional NSW and the ACT because of range anxiety (the fear of running out of charge).

This would be catastrophic to regional tourism and hurt communities that, quite frankly, already have enough to contend with, particularly in this period of crippling drought.

Opening up regional tourism to Australians - and the world - is vital to ensuring regional communities can thrive.

That's why the 20 fast chargers that we have rolled so far have been done so strategically.

The NRMA plans to build at least 40 in the coming years. NRMA members will charge their cars for free.

Chargers will be no further than 150 kilometres apart to enable people to complete these journeys with peace of mind.

NRMA chargers can now get you to the Hunter Valley, the South Coast and the snow without fear of running out of charge.

We have also started rolling out new chargers up the north coast and out to western NSW.

The NRMA is building this infrastructure now so that these destinations are accessible for tomorrow's electric vehicle drivers.

Ignoring painful lessons from the past, which resulted in regional Australia missing out on vital services, is not an option.

A century of standing up for Australians has left the NRMA with a powerful voice that can help deliver positive outcomes for regional Australia.

Today, we are backing up that advocacy with investment.

The NRMA is one of Australia's largest owners and operator of holiday parks and almost all of these are found outside our capital cities.

Branching into the future of transport infrastructure in the regions to support this investment is a natural progression.

We want holidaymakers to go west, or north, or south, with their holiday dollars to spend in local communities.

Our members, and the community at large, have many questions about electric vehicles - the most recent edition of the Open Road saw 500 letters in response to stories on the topic.

This is one of the highest responses we've seen to a story.

The questions and concerns raised by the public today mirror the same concerns raised by Australia's first motorists, when the nation transitioned from the horse and cart to combustion engine.

These are valid concerns and a key role of the NRMA over the coming years is to be a source of knowledge and guidance.

Rohan Lund NRMA Group CEO