AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:
The Australian boss of British-based prestige car maker Jaguar Land Rover says the Federal Government needs to provide much better leadership and outline a “clear road map” for a transition to electric vehicles otherwise the country will squander billions of dollars of potential economic benefits.
Matthew Wiesner, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover Australia, said it was frustrating watching the uncertainty and there were eerie similarities already to the policy-making angst which had hampered the renewable energy sector in Australia for years.
With no car manufacturing industry left in Australia, the future direction of vehicle development was in the hands of global car makers in Europe, North America and Asia where the electric car industry and take-up rates was more advanced. Those models would come to Australia regardless, and the right regulatory framework and infrastructure needed to be in place to maximise the economic benefits, he said.
“It’s not Canberra’s decision as to whether or not Australia is going to have electrification,” he said.
“It’s coming no matter what.
“Are we ready to take it on?”
Car makers offshore including Jaguar Land Rover wanted to see a stable, over-arching regulatory framework which delivered certainty and stability and would lead to increased investment in electric vehicle-related sectors and the provision of infrastructure such as charging stations.
“It requires long-term investment. The last thing they want to hear is doubt and inconsistency as to where a country like Australia is going in this space”.
Mr Weisner said if the right investment climate was created by regulators and policy-makers then private operators and infrastructure firms would move into the sector to provide the charging network infrastructure to support a much bigger roll-out.
“I suppose it’s the poles and wires of charging infrastructure,” he said, referring to the electricity companies and distributors whose role it was to investment in and maintain the electricity distribution systems operating in Australia.
He said it wasn’t the role of car manufacturers to provide charging station infrastructure around Australia. Car companies didn’t operate petrol stations for traditional combustion engine vehicles, he said. He acknowledged that prestige buyers were at the forefront of electric car buying so far, with Tesla, led by Elon Musk, at the forefront of the electric car push on a global scale.
“People in that market obviously have the means,” he said.
Jaguar Land Rover is preparing to put its first electric vehicle on the market in Australia in September, with its British parent having pledged that by 2020 every Jaguar and Land Rover model will have an electric version available to buyers.
Mr Wiesner said the pricing in Australia for the Jaguar I-PACE, an electric SUV, was still being determined as the company assessed a range of factors including whether to package up home-charging costs as part of the selling offer. “We’re still working on several aspects,” Mr Weisner said. He said it be be somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000.
Federal Minister of Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg outlined early in 2018 his views on the electric car industry and cited Norway as a pioneer, but there was angst among some backbenchers.
Mr Wiesner said higher penetration rates of electric cars would likely only occur when mass-maker car makers expanded their ranges.
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