Minister for climate change and energy Chris Bowen has hinted that the government will pave the way for electric vehicle manufaturing in Australia.
The comments, made at talks in Pittsburgh on Thursday (US time) at a global clean energy forum, come hot on the heels of a test drive of an all-electric F-150 Lightning ute (known as a pickup in the US).
Having handshaked on a Clean Energy Demand Initiative (CEDI) deal with US counterpart Special Climate Envoy John Kerry that will see Australia coordinate investment in clean energy, the energy minister answered media regarding recent talk about restarting off a vehicle making industry in Australia.
In mid-September, homegrown Tesla chair Robyn Denholm spoke at the national press club saying that Australia can, and should, play a role in the growing electric vehicle and battery manufacturing sector.
This was followed by comments from Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that the Sunshine State would back an EV factory if Tesla decided to build one there.
Now, Bowen has added more heat to the flame.
“We can make electric vehicles in Australia. Not only do I think that, so do the electric vehicle manufacturers,” Bowen told Australian media, The Australian Financial Review reports.
“There’s work to do to make that more viable in Australia, but the economics of an electric vehicle are a lot different to the economics of making internal combustion engine (cars).”
Australia’s car manufacturing industry was shut down in 2017, and because Australia has no fuel emissions legislation, carmakers have struggled to convince overseas HQs to prioritise zero emissions vehicles for the local market.
Australia is alone with Russia in being the only western countries to lack these standards.
The new Labor government will seek to correct that oversight, and Bowen in August said at the nation’s first electric vehicle summit that the discussion for fuel emissions legislation is now on the table.
Bowen reiterated those comments, also hinting that there may be policy around EV-related manufacturing, on Thursday to media.
“We have a range of policies which no doubt will be looked at in due course. I believe we can make key components of electric vehicles and indeed electric vehicles totally in Australia,” he was quoted as saying.
“Australia and Russia are the only two developed countries without fuel efficiency standards – that’s something that will be discussed.”
Labor in July became the first Australian federal government to introduce policy aimed at encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles.
Its policies include cutting the fringe benefits tax and import taxes to help speed up sales of low and zero emissions vehicles, but Greens and Independents say they will oppose it unless plug-in hybrids are excluded from the incentives.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model Y and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.