Australia has been late to the EV party. It’s been said that former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was wedded to coal (or those who controlled it), and while Australia signed on to net zero emissions by 2050, Morrison sought other (unknown) ways of achieving this.
So the recent election success of the Labour Party has signalled a potential change. Currently EV adoption and regulatory support are being managed state by state, with New South Wales and Victoria spearheading the change. This makes the model mix selection for Australia difficult. Most car companies have a whole-market plan in place, not one based on individual states.
So if new Prime Minister Albanese wants to make a difference, there are some ‘low hanging fruit’ when it comes to the car industry. Federal incentives and charging infrastructure are being quickly lined up. The EV Council of Australia (similar organisation to Drive Electric Inc here) has been pushing for a more coordinated roll-out of EV policy and charging infrastructure in Australia. If the new Labour Government picks this up, this would be good news on this side of the ditch.
One of the big hurdles for our new car importers and distributors has been that no car company makes cars just for little ol’ New Zealand and they usually have to ‘adopt’ a base model specification from another right-hand drive market and adapt it to suit. For many of the Japanese brands, they usually adopt Australian spec. These combined volumes often help distributors here. But since New Zealand started its journey along the Clean Car Programme, the wheels came off this joined-up plan for some importers. Australia is regarded as a laggard and New Zealand an emerging lead market when it comes to electric vehicles. The differing focuses of companies on either side of the ditch has been commented on by industry insiders for many months.
But with a change of Government in Australia and the signals that Prime Minister Albanese gave leading into the election, it is hoped that once again both sides of the Tasman will be able to bring together to market a parallel range that includes more electric variants.
I encourage Minister of Transport Michael Wood to get alongside his Australian counterpart as well, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King. Her collection of portfolios suggests that the Albanese Government is thinking smart about what’s needed to shift the dial in Australia.
Speaking of Minister Wood, he and officials are about to embark on an overseas trip to Europe. The Minister will speak at the annual Norwegian EV Summit in Oslo. This is a great opportunity to further signal New Zealand is open for business for well priced EVs.
More interesting though is that some of the Minister’s officials are also planning a visit to the UK Department of Transportation and, in particular, its ‘Office of Low Emission Vehicles’ (OLEV). OLEV has been in place since about 2013, and they have already answered a number of the questions presently being asked in New Zealand, especially a plan around Charging Infrastructure. I am hopeful we can ‘leapfrog’ some of the current thinking in New Zealand, especially on issues such as smart charging, community and kerbside charging, and incentives/penalties that can bring about the behaviour change needed to support mode shift, mobility as a service, and the uptake of EVs.
So with the momentum of new EV models being announced internationally ongoing, and new EV model launches in New Zealand also happening, we now just await the war cry from across the Tasman of Aussie Aussie Aussie, EV EV EV!
This article was first published in the July 2022 issue of NZ Autocar Magazine.