Nissan Leaf
Source: Nissan

A new community initiative wants to help accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by making them more affordable for Australian drivers through fleet discounts from dealerships.

Founded by clean energy specialists David Malicki and Evan Darmanin, the Good Motive initiative aims to allow electric car buyers to purchase in groups, and access the discounts once a minimum number of buyers has been reached.

Electric cars are currently priced higher than their petrol and diesel equivalents, largely due to the cost of lithium-ion batteries which power them.

Although a tipping point for lower battery costs is expected to bring EVs price parity with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the not-too-distant future, the fact remains that for now, the higher price of EVs is a barrier to uptake.

“Our goal is to really help accelerate the transition but also to see renewably powered passenger vehicles in Australia,” Malicki tells The Driven.

Partnerships with Northern Beaches’ Col Crawford (which recently made its position on selling EVs clear in a local ad campaign, and is located in Warringah electorate now under the watch of pro-EV independent Zali Steggall), Ryde Hyundai and Pennants Hills Nissan/Pennants Hills Hyundai mean that four different EV models will be available to drivers under the bulk buying initiative.

Drivers can choose from the Renault Zoe, the Nissan Leaf (the release of which in Australia is imminent), the Hyundai Kona (either Elite or Highlander trims) or the Hyundai Ioniq (Elite or Premium trims).

Once a minimum of five buyers for one dealership have been identified, Good Motive can trigger a fleet negotiation with the dealership.

They don’t all have to be of the same model either, says Malicki.

“What we’ve negotiated is a mix – as long as we get to five vehicles we can get the discount,” he says.

To join the initiative, potential buyers join up at the Good Motive website (for a fee of $200 which shows serious interest, helps pay operating costs such as negotiating with the dealers, and is fully refundable if the buyer ultimately decides not to purchase), and choose a vehicle out of the four available.

Dealerships have been welcoming of the business model, says Malicki, who notes that the offer is in fact NSW-wide, with dealers able to arrange delivery all over the state for an additional cost.

“It’s great to see the interest from dealerships, who of course have the goal to sell more vehicles,” says Malicki.

Discounts currently range from around $1,300 to $2,000 – nothing to be sniffed at considering there are no financial incentives to switch to electric vehicles currently in NSW, unlike in the US where there is a federal tax rebate for EVs of up to $US7,500 ($A10,863 at today’s rates), or in New Zealand where a new Clean Car Discount policy will see a feebate scheme reduce EV purchase costs by up to $NZ8,000 ($A7,684 at today’s rates).

According to the Good Motive website, that means a Kona Electric Elite could cost $63,924  instead of $65,264 drive away, or a Nissan Leaf could cost $52,985 instead of $54,991 drive away.

Based in northern Sydney, Malicki and Darmanin are also building partnerships with local councils to educate and spread the word about EV adoption a part of the initiative.

“There are three barriers to adoption that we are trying to overcome – price is one, but also awareness – doing lots of talks – and also particularly around range, it’s not as much of an issue as people think and is improving today,” he says.

“[In Australia] we are a very heavy adopter of on-site solar, and the next step is marrying that with EVs and orchestrating it with the grid.”

In addition to negotiating fleet discounts for EV buyers, Good Motive are planning a series of events in partnership with councils to raise awareness and answer questions about electric vehicles for potential buyers, as well as provide free expert reviews of solar PV quotes for members’ homes.

In the future, Good Motive also hopes to offer discounts on EV chargers for homes (which would allow for faster charging at home just like a mobile phone).

While there are no plans to expand the model into other states, Malicki says that he’d love to see it across the country, and would be happy to see partners in other states adopt the buying model.

“If it takes off, it’s a great model because it’s low cost and everyone wins,” he says.

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