ARENA to help fund Origin Energy EV fleet transition

The Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced a part-funding of Origin Energy’s Accelerate EV Fleet Program, encouraging the transition away from petrol-driven cars to Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Part of the Future Fuels Fund (Round 1), the program will see ARENA fund $6.17 million of the estimated $12.76 million total project cost, which has already begun and has an estimated completion date of January 2025.

Origin Energy is partnering with Custom Fleet to assist business customers transition their petrol car fleets to EVs via fully managed EV fleet management solutions. The aim is to accelerate the uptake of EVs while creating a viable and expanded second hand market for EVs.

The project will see 1,000 EVs leased to business across the country including 1,000 smart charging points, one for each vehicle. The entire project will be document and analysed for a report which will be shared among government, non-government organisations, and other businesses. This will help spur on even greater uptake of EVs once a “tipping point” has been reached.

Origin Energy will supply, install, and manage the EV infrastructure in conjunction with Custom Fleet.

The program will assist in creating a supply chain for EV charging and integration, so Australia is better equipped to satisfy demand for EVs.

ARENA Acting CEO Chris Faris says “Origin’s program is ARENA’s largest to date targeting light vehicle fleets. Not only will we be putting 1000 new electric vehicles on the road, but this program will create a blueprint for how EV fleet leasing models can operate.

“The EV Accelerate Program is about demonstrating the business case and learning the lessons that will allow that transition to gather pace.”

Origin echoed the sentiments, saying that the funding will allow the energy retailer to support more business customers with their EV transitions and reduce their carbon footprint and operating costs.

97% of Australia’s national motor vehicle fleet are light vehicles, and fleet users account for nearly half of all passenger vehicles sold in Australia.

EVs only accounted for 6.5% of total car sales in the first quarter of 2023 and the numbers are increasing year on year. According to the Electric Vehicle Council, the share of EV light vehicle car sales increased from 2.05% in 2021 to 3.8% in 2022.

Electrifying business fleets paves the way for a faster adoption of EVs, due to fleets leasing their cars for a period and selling them to private buyers after the lease is concluded. This will increase supply overall, reducing prices over time. This includes utility electric vehicles and EV last mile delivery vehicles.

ARENA is the government body responsible for decarbonising land transport in Australia. ARENA has funded $146 million worth of projects including building fast chargers, household smart charging, and hydrogen refuelling. In April 2023, ARENA’s $70 million Driving the Nation fund was established to stimulate innovation in public charging stations.