EV policy lag will cost Australian drivers, economy – inquiry told

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Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles warned that failure to embrace global shift to EVs would ultimately cost Australian motorists.

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Australia’s failure to embrace the global shift to electric vehicles stands to be more than just a national embarrassment, industry experts have warned, with Australian motorists at risk of paying more – and having less choice – if government policy doesn’t pick up the pace.

That was the firm message delivered to Senator Tim Storer, who is the chair of the the Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles, at a roundtable in Melbourne with around 20 executives from the Electric Vehicle Council.

The Council – whose members span 50 companies from a range of industry sectors, including auto manufacture, charging infrastructure and energy distribution – reiterated the urgent need to establish legislated targets for EV uptake in Australia to give manufacturers, distributors and infrastructure suppliers the confidence to invest.

Action was also urgently needed to encourage the installation of EV charging infrastructure, they said, and particularly a network of fast chargers nation wide, to address any remaining “range anxiety” that might be putting consumers off parting from petrol cars.

In a statement on Thursday, Senator Storer also pointed to the missed economic opportunities, if  Australia continued to lag too far behind the global pace.

“The transition to electric vehicles is inevitable,” he said. “The question is whether we’ll be technology takers or technology makers.”

Storer pointed to EV infrastructure company Tritium as a key example of this. As we have reported, Tritium – whose Brisbane made, world-leading fast chargers have taken battery recharge times close to comparable with filling up at the petrol bowser – has been doing a roaring trade, almost everywhere except Australia.

In thepast month alone, it has landed a deal with Munich-based IONITY to supply its High Power Chargers (HPC) – which can add 150km of driving range to an EV battery in just five minutes – for 100 high-power charging sites being built by IONITY across Germany, France, UK, Norway and Sweden.

And in a separate European deal, it will supply 12 of its 50kW DC fast chargers to NKM Mobilitas as part of a new electric car charging network across Hungary.

“Tritium’s success is a timely reminder that we have the smarts and skilled labour force to be an advanced manufacturing powerhouse,” Storer said on Thursday.

“They’re successfully using the power of Brand Australia to export high quality Australian made chargers all around the world, with almost 200 staff at their factory in Brisbane, and counting.”

“Imagine how much more successful Tritium and other Australian innovators would be if there were a national strategy to support the development of the industry here in Australia.”

Storer also noted that nearly all major car companies were already investing heavily in EVs, and countries, notably the UK, Germany, France, China, India, and California in the US, had all announced deadlines to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel cars and buses over coming years.

Submissions to the Committee close tomorrow, and hearings begin in Adelaide on August 10, to be followed by hearings in Melbourne and Canberra. More information about the inquiry can be found on the Committee homepage.

Sophie Vorrath

Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.

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12 Comments
  1. MaxG 5 months ago

    Will the people ever figure out how they are being sold out by their elected leaders?
    We have no leadership in Australia! Therefore, we have no effective government, and will not have any future orientated development or policies — as proven the world over with ample privatisation, missing energy transition and lots of climate change deniers… violating the symbolism of the coat of arms on a daily basis.

  2. Bazz12 5 months ago

    It is pointless talking about infrastructure while the GARO is in place.
    GARO = The Great Australian Ripp Off. The Nissan Leaf sells for around $20,000 more here than in the US. I believe the difference to the UK is about $10k to $15k difference. The excuse given to me was a list about design rules etc etc as if they had no design rules in other countries.
    The GARO is common in other industries as well as cars and it can be seen in many other fields if something is imported, Oh Aussies he, he add 30% !

    • MaxG 5 months ago

      Often double…

    • MacNordic 5 months ago

      The problem of a small, distant market and uncertain offtake:
      Homologising a car for a certain market is often expensive.
      For illustration, lets just assume an arbitrary sum of 1 million AU$ upfront cost.
      If you expect to sell 100 cars per year, that is 10,000$ per car.
      If you can rely on selling 1,000 cars, that comes down to 1,000$.*

      That still leaves the import tax of 10% on each and every single car – calculated from the list price, more often than not.
      And the inspection for biohazards, fumigation and inspection cost.
      Then add GST. And the cost of maintaining a representation in a smallish market with all training, marketing and supporting costs that entails.

      Plus the fact that shipping rates to Australia are some of the highest per km – and there are a lot of km between most vehicle production sites and Australia.

      *costs might be considered running costs and could then budgeted to be recouped in the first year.

      • Bazz12 5 months ago

        To the extent of $20,000 on each car ? Does not happen with IC engine cars. Similar IC engine cars are $20k to $30k.
        Now explain Nissan’s quote $57,500 ? Really !
        All companies know when introducing a new model car or whatever you do not expect to regain all new costs on the first few sold but that it is an investment in the market.

        • MacNordic 5 months ago

          IF you are certain to have a captive market, that is no problem – but with uncertain policy, offtake and limited reach, this gets risky quickly. Risk=higher cost in business…

    • Gyrogordini 5 months ago

      The GARO has been evident in Oz for premium vehicles for ever. Look at the markups on BMW, Porsche and Mercedes (taxi, Monsieur?), that have been around forever.
      Interestingly, Tesla and BMW i3 are nearly the same price in the UK, as here, and Zoe not far behind. (Zoe prices are messy, as there are two battery sizes, and the “leased battery” complication.)
      US car prices are dramatically lower in all respects. Bravo to Tesla for offering to sell Model3 in Oz at 1:1 transfer pricing.
      Of course LCT and all the other dated additional ORCs in Oz then further distort comparisons.

    • The_Lorax 5 months ago

      You can buy an Ioniq EV in California for under $20K USD after incentives. It will be closer to $60k AUD when (if?) it’s sold here. Even the Zoe is $50k including on road costs.

  3. Dennis Kavanagh 5 months ago

    It’ll be interesting to see the recommendations that come out of this inquiry and then to see what policy proposals if any are put forward by the LNP, Labor and the Greens.

  4. Ian 5 months ago

    High value, highly automated manufacturing is something any country can do competitively. The traditional industrial strategy was to locate in parts of the world with large unsophisticated poor populations which were desperate to improve their lot and exploit/utilise this resource to manufacture goods cheaply. When manufacturing no longer needs this sort of resource, it can be sited absolutely anywhere. High-tech industrial machines and robots are plug and play. They can be sourced, just like our existing consumer products, from far and wide. Whole fabs can be designed and manufactured elsewhere and assembled in suitable places across the globe, the necessary skills to do so don’t even need to be found locally. Just like in in the Navada desert a monstrous , frigging battery factory can be plonked where ever. Even despite our dig it and ship it economy, and our pervasive manufacturing-averse mindset, ready-made manufacturing could be brought to our shores successfully.

    Perhaps, just perhaps there’s a glimmer of light brought about by Senator Storer’s work.

  5. solarguy 4 months ago

    Just make it happen Canberra!

  6. Alex 4 months ago

    There’s also the issue of strategic security which rarely gets raised- as long as our transport infrastructure is tied to imported petroleum products we’re incredibly vulnerable. The government must know this but they choose to stay more loyal to their donors than our strategic interests.

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