Australia has not been marked out as a country that embraces electric vehicles. VW won’t come here as they don’t see any enthusiasm for the technology and there are no incentives for zero emission vehicles. Having said that EV Fast Charge stations are being built around the country – one in Western Australia thanks to local government support and the RAC to be called the RAC Electric Highway. Another is being built on the eastern seaboard linking Sydney to Melbourne for the exclusive use of Tesla owners. A third is being put in place in Queensland thanks to world leading Tritium with their Veefil fast charge technology. So despite the lack of support from government and the limited number of EVs models available, progress is slowly being made.
The sad fact is however that Australia is missing an opportunity to get on board this new technology and carve out a slice of the growing market. It’s not through a lack of local expertise – Tritium, the Queensland based Fast Charge manufacturers recently won a global contract with Charge Point (the biggest EV charging network in the world). The General Motors Bolt, star of the Detroit Motor Show in 2015, is due for production at the end of 2016. It will travel 300kms on a single charge, cost around $37,000 in the United States and the concept model was designed and built in Port Melbourne. On top of that the students at the University of New South Wales last year smashed the world record for a solar powered electric vehicle, the SunSwift eVe, travelling over 500kms at an average speed of 107kph. They are making eVe street legal this year.
Let’s compare our current government attitude to that of some of our neighbours. China for example has increased the incentive payments for EVs over the past year and the uptake of these vehicles is rapidly increasing. China is now in to its 3rd summit of EV/PHEV technology. Meanwhile, a report just out today in Thailand’s Bangkok Post states that the government is gearing up to make Thailand a global production hub for EV technology with a five year plan in place.
What is our local Federal Government doing or what is it not doing. It’s not prepared to offer incentives despite the pleas of BMW, GM, Nissan etc. but is prepared to subsidize and promote coal as the energy source of the future. Am I living in some sort of dream where the leaders of this country see an 18th century energy technology as the saviour of humankind and refuse to lift their eyes to the sunrise technologies of the world that will disrupt coal and oil over the next 15 years? Is someone asleep at the wheel?