Australia has ranked 14 out of 20 in the first KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (2018).

The Index evaluates each country according to four pillars that are integral to the adoption and integration of autonomous vehicles: policy & legislation, technology & innovation, infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

The report finds: “On technology and innovation Australia has few AV technology headquarters and patents, the research found no relevant investments and few Australians drive electric cars.”

Australia scores reasonably well on AV-related policy and legislation, while on infrastructure it receives a maximum score for the quality of mobile networks.

But it has a middle ranking for quality of its roads and availability of 4G, and currently has very few electric charging stations.

KPMG transport management consulting partner Paul Low said autonomous vehicles (AVs) were poised to revolutionise not only transportation but the way people live and work throughout the world.

"The mobility freedom provided by AVs will have a transformational impact on society. But with the tremendous opportunity comes significant challenges that have to be addressed in order for Australia, and other countries, to be able to realise the full benefits of AVs.

“A key issue for Australia in this respect is our federation – it is crucial that state and federal authorities collaborate so we can establish a universal platform to support AV transitioning across the nation.

“Another key question point is to decide what we want as a country. Do we prioritise consumer choice or do we believe there is more economic opportunity in a deliberate strategy to introduce AVs into high value fleets (e.g. freight and logistics) or corridors (e.g. key motorways)?

"Getting this over-arching strategy right will create consumer and investor confidence by giving certainty on where we are headed. It will also determine the regulatory model we need."

Low added that the market scale in Australia may not rival some parts of the world, but it can match the innovation being achieved in other countries as long as the policy and regulatory settings are right.

“While high price is often mentioned as a reason for the low take-up of electric cars in Australia, the cost of Automated and Electric vehicles is already declining rapidly and will in the near future will be comparable to an average sedan now (i.e. around $30k).

“I believe the lack of charging infrastructure is as big an issue – for this reason we would commend the approach of the Victorian Government which asked for independent advice from Infrastructure Victoria on the charging and other infrastructure required to enable the implementation of the automated and zero emission vehicles in that state.

"Similar detailed research is needed across Australia as regions will have different infrastructure requirements, driven in part by varying socio-economic structure and urban development patterns.”

KPMG Australia has urged the Commonwealth and state governments to take relevant actions to safeguard the liveability and productivity of our cities in the autonomous era.

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