Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg thinks that the introduction of the electric car will rival the iPhone. Well, there’s nothing like thinking small. But Mr Frydenberg stopped short of committing to more federal government action to support electric vehicle growth
Certainly the iPhone has changed the way we communicate and it is certainly a disruptive technology and certainly has global reach. But it will be small bickies compared with introduction of electric cars. To start with an iPhone costs around $1000. A cheap car is around $20,000.
The replacement of petrol driven engines by electric engines will have profound effects not only on transport systems of the world economy but also on the countries whose manufacturing base drives this massive technological change.
And the Australian Federal government is sitting on its hands.
Just recently Malcolm Turnbull announced that the government will no longer be “backing winners”. We have turned our back on the motorcar industry just at a time when the goalposts are shifting and massive new opportunities are beginning to open up.
Everything that Australia is doing in preparation for the advent of the electric car presupposes that Australia will be importing its electric cars.
Existing incentives such as a discount on the luxury car tax threshold for low emission vehicles, and carbon credit units for companies that transition their fleets to electric vehicles. Additional measures include tax exemptions, rebates on charging stations, subsidies to reduce upfront purchase costs, allowing electric vehicles to travel in bus lanes and targets for the number of electric vehicles in government car fleets.
Just imagine if the CEO of Volkswagen, Matthias Müller, stood up and said “Wir haben keine Pläne für das Elektroauto”
Australia is lagging behind in the take-up of electric cars
But this is really beside the point. What Australia needs to be doing is looking at ways of rejuvenating its motorcar industry and begin producing the new technologies that will drive the solar powered motorcars of the future.
There are two issues here
The first is reducing the polluting effects of petrol and diesel driven motorcars.
The second is rejuvenating Australian manufacturing. There will be a minor Industrial Revolution driving electric and solar driven motorcars. It will require a concerted effort between industry and government to ensure that Australia and Australian workers, Australian investors and Australian superannuation funds do not miss out on this.
Fresh from rescuing the Whyalla steelworks from receivership, Britain’s “man of steel” Sanjeev Gupta is now eyeing an ambitious plan to build electric cars at the former Holden site in South Australia.