Prime minister Scott Morrison did his level best in the last election campaign to convince everyone that electric vehicles would be the death of the economy, the weekend, and the tradies’ favourite mode of transport, the ute. But he has finally taken the wheel of an electric vehicle.
In a recent visit to the Volvo manufacturing facility in Queensland, Morrison took the wheel of a newly delivered Volvo FL Electric truck – the first in Australia and which is set to enter service on a trial basis with trucking company Linfox in April.
As you can see from the video below, Morrison got to drive the electric truck across the tarmac within the manufacturing facility and into what appears to be a delivery area.
“See you in Canberra,” he quipped. But what did he think of the experience? Well, we don’t know because, curiously, Morrison’s media team didn’t post the footage or the transcript of his remarks on his web-site, even though they did from his visits to an oil recycler and an ammunitions manufacturer on the previous day.
In remarks shared by Volvo, Morrison declared that: “We make things in Australia, and we make them well.” But there was no mention of what he thought of his EV experience.
The federal minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, who accompanied the PM, was quoted by Primemovermag.com.au as saying the Government “was right behind” the development of trucks powered by clean and renewable sources such as battery electric (EV) and hydrogen fuel cells.
“We are very supportive of the development of electric vehicles here in Australia,” said Andrews.
“From a trucking point of view, due to the vast distances travelled, there are some specific issues but they are just challenges for us to overcome – which I see as opportunities rather than impediments.”
That enthusiasm for EVs has hitherto been hard to detect. The federal government’s EV strategy amounts to a few pages of platitudes that say not very much. In the US, the Biden government has pledged to swap the entire government fleet of more than 650,000 vehicles to electric drivetrains, and GM has now promised not to produce any more petrol or diesel cars after 2035.
And Australia, sadly, might make “big things and small things”, as Morrison suggests, but no longer cars. And the federal government recently signed up to refresh its Comcar fleet with some diesel BMWs and some hybrid Toyotas.
A new analysis commissioned by The Greens shows it would cost less than $200 million to convert the Commonwealth’s fleet of 10,253 internal combustion vehicles to lower emissions electric models within the next decade, about the same amount as the government has committed to help Origin Energy frack for gas in the Beetaloo Basin.
Volvo Australia intends to provide “fossil free” transport solutions by 2040, and Volvo has just announced the creation of Volvo Energy, which will focus on giving vehicle batteries a second life, and “contribute to the creation of a circular economy and a fossil free society”, says CEO Martin Lundstedt.