The first electric vehicle research facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere will be established at RMIT University in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.

Supporting the Electrification of Victoria’s Future Fleet is a major project bringing government, university and industry partners together around the expertise and infrastructure needed to support widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Victoria.

The $5.2m funding was announced today by the Hon Gayle Tierney MLC under the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF). It marks an important step towards the state’s net zero targets, while boosting skills and employment for Melbourne’s pandemic recovery.

With transport responsible for around 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in Victoria, Minister Tierney said electrification of transport was critical for tackling climate change, as well as creating new jobs in low-carbon industries. “This is an important project for the future of clean, green transport in Victoria but also for our plan to meet net zero emissions by 2050 through innovative research and the development of new technology,” said Minister Tierney.

RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, said activity would focus around a new Electric Vehicle Living Lab with EV charging stations, regenerative grid and battery simulators and more. “We’ll be developing cutting-edge battery technology and simulating the impacts of wide-scale electric vehicle adoption on electricity grid loading, prices and the broader system,” Drummond said.

The RMIT-led consortium includes Monash and La Trobe universities and industry partners Siemens, City of Melbourne, Centre for New Energy Technologies (C4NET) and CitiPower/Powercor.

The Electric Vehicle Living Lab at RMIT will also provide hands-on learning opportunities for students.

The funding initiative was developed in response to the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic on universities. The investment in RMIT to support pandemic recovery and renewal in Melbourne comes after $44.6m in round one VHESIF funding last year for development of RMIT’s Social Innovation Precinct.