Mike Stevens | Oct 13, 2010

While the Federal Government has chosen not to offer incentives to assist the take-up of electric vehicles, Victoria has announced a five-year electric vehicle trial.

Victorian Roads Minister Tim Pallas said the $5.0 million trial included support from manufacturers, with more than 50 organisations and 180 households participating in the project.

"The Electric Vehicle Trial will create real-life conditions by testing how drivers, vehicles, plug-in charging infrastructure and the electricity network will work in everyday situations," Mr Pallas said.

"This is a real-world test of how these vehicles will operate in Victoria and that means we need Victorians to use electric vehicles and report back on their experiences."

As part of the trial, charging points will be installed in participating homes and workplaces, along with public charging points in selected areas.

The Nissan Leaf electric vehicle is due to go on sale in Australia in 2012.
The Nissan Leaf electric vehicle is due to go on sale in Australia in 2012.

Around 60 small passenger vehicles will be used for the trail, the list including the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf and Toyota's Prius PHEV plug-in hybrid.

Local outfit Blade Electric Vehicles has not been overlooked, finally gaining government recognition. Its Blade Electron (based on the ageing and soon to be retired Hyundai Getz) is also taking part in the trial.

While not strictly an all-electric car, Toyota Australia CEO David Buttner said drivers of the Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle would not suffer the sort of "range anxiety" faced by anyone driving a fully electric car.

"If you forget to plug it in, you will still be able to drive to work, and you will be able to continue to drive beyond the range of the battery pack," Mr Buttner said.

"Unlike electric cars, you will not have to drive with one eye on the road and one eye on the electric power gauge. After using its electric-only range, the Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle reverts to normal petrol-electric hybrid operation, such as that of Prius or Hybrid Camry."

The vehicles will rotate between households and fleets for three months at a time, with insurance and charging points provided by the Victorian Government. Participants will pay the cost of electricity.

All of the vehicles taking part in the trial will be powered by AGL GreenPower electricity, drawn from 100 percent renewable energy.

A TMR poll in October last year showed that of 1009 respondents, 44 percent would consider the purchase of an electric vehicle if priced competitively.

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