British car maker Jaguar Land Rover has called on the Australian government to “do its bit” in driving electric vehicle uptake, or risk putting the nation even further behind the global pace, while also missing a major economic and environmental opportunity.
“As one of the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers, Jaguar Land Rover is calling on Australian government to provide a unified and clear road ahead for the industry to follow,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.
Drawing a parallel with the so-called “energy crisis” currently plaguing the National Electricity Market, JLR Australia head Matthew Wiesner said the shift to EVs would happen with or without government backing, but would be much smoother – and more beneficial – with the right policies in place.
“This is about safeguarding in Australia’s future. Electric vehicles are here to stay and there’s an opportunity to build a burgeoning Australian industry (around them),” Wiesner said.
“(The shift to EVs) can create jobs and opportunities in sectors like advanced manufacturing, technology and even mining, where there will be increased demand for minerals needed for EV batteries.
“If we let the rest of the world race ahead, we risk becoming reliant on overseas services and products by the time we catch up. We need clear and cohesive leadership now to ensure we don’t miss out,” he said.
“We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes made with the energy sector, where Government inaction and regulatory indecision stalled progress and ultimately cost Australians through higher prices.”
And while the automaker has a vested interest in the accelerated uptake of electric vehicles – with its first all-electric car, the I-PACE, due to land in Australia later this year, and with a commitment to have an electrified option on all JLR cars by 2020 – it is certainly not a lone voice in calling for government action.
Earlier this year the boss of BMW Australia made a similar appeal, and the Electric Vehicle Council has repeatedly called on the government to support the move to electric cars, especially due to the multiple benefits they could bring.
“There is a reason why governments [around the world] are intervening to transition fleets from petrol and diesel to electric,” said EVC CEO Behyad Jafari in comments in October last year.
“It’s one of the more efficient ways to reduce emissions. That includes improvements to air quality and recognising that this is a new technology that is continuing to get more efficient and is growing around the world.
“The largest role here is for the federal government to send an ambiguous message to consumers and industry that it supports this transition to electric vehicles. That means providing incentives or tax exemptions for the purchase of electric vehicles and having a nationally coordinated plan for the transition of our road fleet.”
And according to Jaguar, even the average Australian thinks the nation has fallen far behind the global pace on EV uptake.
A survey commissioned by the car maker, the results of which were published on Thursday, found that 68 per cent of respondents believed Australia was “more than 10 times” behind the rest of the world in EV adoption.
The survey also revealed that 85 per cent of Australians believed EVs could be a positive economic opportunity for Australia; while another 70 per cent believed the world was in the midst of a once-in-100-year shift to replace petrol cars with EVs.
“Australians are ready for electric vehicles, and the industry is too – now we need the federal government to do their bit and present their framework,” Wiesner said.
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.