It is probably the most recognisable vehicle fleet in Australia, but the federal government’s COMCAR fleet, used to ferry politicians, senior bureaucrats and senior federal judges around Canberra and other capital cities, still won’t feature any all-electric vehicle models.
The COMCAR fleet, which has long consisted of a fleet of white V8-engined Holden Caprice sedans, will transition to a mix of diesel-fuelled BMW’s and a hybrid Toyota Camry model, after a Department of Finance led assessment snubbed the all-electric options, which included two models of Teslas.
With the decline of Holden’s manufacturing activities in Australia, the Department of Finance opened up the tender for fleet providers to a wide range of overseas manufacturers.
The Department undertook an initial “desktop” assessment of 18 vehicles, which included models from Kia, BMW, Nissan, Hyundai, Tesla, Mercedes and Toyota, with several models of all-electric vehicles evaluated.
The Department told The Driven that the vehicles reviewed included the Tesla S and Tesla X all-electric vehicles.
However, no all-electric vehicles made the final shortlist of seven vehicles that were selected by the Department to be trialled as part of the COMCAR fleet in early 2019 (and before the release in Australia of the Model 3).
That list of seven included vehicles from Hyundai, BMW, Toyota and Mercedes, but included just one hybrid vehicle from Toyota.
It is unclear why the Tesla’s were ultimately excluded after the desktop assessment, but a response provided by the Department of Finance suggested it may relate to vehicle size, rather than any issue that related to performance or the need for new charging infrastructure.
“COMCAR undertook a preliminary assessment of a wide range of vehicles, including a number of all-electric vehicles, which were not considered fit-for-purpose for COMCAR’s operations, due to their size and capacity,” a department spokesperson told The Driven.
It is also unclear whether the Tesla models were test-driven as part of the assessment, with the Department indicating the initial “desktop” assessment included “visual inspections” of some models, and suggested that not all of the vehicles were driven.
“The preliminary assessment involved a desktop evaluation, to consider a range of possible future fleet vehicles for COMCAR’s use, including a number of electric vehicles that were available in Australia,” the Department spokesperson said.
“COMCAR then worked closely with sgFleet, the Australian Government fleet provider, to assess the suitability of 18 vehicles against the Australian Government Fleet Vehicle Selection Policy. This included both visual inspecting and test driving some vehicles, including the two Tesla models.”
It is also not clear if the assessment included idling time. Drivers are often stuck waiting outside parliament and other venues for lengthy periods with the engines idling to keep the aircon/heat on. EVs, of course, can power air con units with the battery.
The Driven understands that concerns had been raised within the Department of Finance about the purchase price of the Tesla vehicles, which for the two models assessed exceed well over $100,000 – despite the lower ongoing operating costs of all-electric vehicles.
To read the full story on RenewEconomy’s electric vehicle dedicated sister site, The Driven, click here…