It’s been an interesting week in Australian politics with Prime Minister Abbott hogging the limelight for all the wrong reasons. The farcical notion of an Australian Prime Minister awarding a knighthood to the Queen’s husband has dominated the airwaves and rightly called into question the PM’s judgement.
Not being so highly reported but a story that deserves much greater press is the visit to Tesla Motors by the Minister of Communications Malcolm Turnbull. It is refreshing to see that at least one member of the current government is switched on to the inevitable revolution that is happening in the car industry. To quote from Malcolm’s Facebook entry:
Visiting the Tesla factory in Fremont, near San Francisco, was a great thrill. The all electric cars are being made in a huge factory that used to belong to GM and Toyota. It shut down and then four years ago Tesla took it over and it went from being an industrial relic to the home of what many regard as the world’s fastest and coolest electric car. And many of the workers at Tesla today are auto workers who had been laid off when the old GM/Toyota plant closed. Tesla has gone from employing 500 people to 11,000 in five years. A reminder of how innovation drives jobs.
Walking through the highly automated assembly lines was inspiring, but nothing matched taking a test drive in the latest Tesla S model. This one has a range of 265 miles (about 480 kms) and accelerate to 100 kph in 3.5 seconds. The key of course is the battery technology which is improving all the time both in terms of cost and energy density. Batteries have the potential to revolutionise the energy market, reducing peaking power requirements, optimising grid utilisation of renewables and in some cases enabling consumers to go off the grid altogether. The excitement of technology in the Bay Area is exhilarating…..but not quite as palpable as the jolt you feel when you hit the accelerator!
It’s easy to see that Malcolm ‘gets it’ – let’s hope he can push the idea of incentives for changing our current toxic fleet to a more healthy and environmentally benign one. Well done Malcolm!