Last Thursday a brace of electric-powered vehicles belted around Sydney’s Eastern Creek speedway, highlighting one of the more dumbfounding episodes of the May 18 election campaign.
The Nissan Leaf, designed for the family garage, was doing a maximum of between 150km/h to 160km/h. The elegant Jaguar I-Pace could hit around 200km/h.
The Tesla team declined to nominate a top speed, but it would have been big.
It wasn’t merely a demonstration of high-rev action.
It was confirmation that business has dismissed — at times with contempt — the Liberals’ bid to depict the advent of electric vehicles as the arrival of a menace to budgets and lifestyles.
On the contrary, EVs are being seen as a huge investment opportunity by authorities ranging from private companies to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which staged the Eastern Creek event.
RELATED: Electric vehicles in Australia: Is Labor’s car plan as crazy as it sounds?
RELATED: Electric cars: the hidden pitfalls
RELATED: Electric cars: Poll shows Australians support Labor’s EV policy
It should be remembered the CEFC doesn’t hand out grants. It only wants to be involved in projects expected to make money.
Further, Infrastructure Australia has ranked the creation of EV charging networks as one of its “high priority initiatives” for 2019.
And last week, a joint US-Australia business promised to create a long-distance network of fast-charging stations for EVs. At least one Australian company has also said it wants to do the same.
All of which can only remind voters of the confounding election campaign claims of Liberal front bencher Michaelia Cash, who said Labor’s election policy on EVs would rob trades people of transport.
To a staged background of grim tradesmen and a beaming Scott Morrison she said Labor wanted to take away their work vehicles, sparking a much-ridiculed “Save the Ute” campaign.
Mr Morrison did his best to set off the EV silliness, saying on the eve of calling the election, “You should have the choice of the car you want to drive and get around on the weekend.”
In a shameless bid to rustle up an issue to scare the punters he said on April 7, “Bill Shorten wants to end the weekend when it comes to his policy on electric vehicles where you’ve got Australians who love being out there in their four-wheel drives.
“He wants to say see-you-later to the SUV when it comes to the choices of Australians. And this is fundamentally the difference between us and Labor when it comes to these issues.
“I have no problem with the adoption of these new technologies and we facilitate it and we’re part of it.
“But what Bill Shorten wants to do, without seemingly even understanding what his policy does, is trying to drive people into these decisions and his policies simply don’t have the backing to explain how he will achieve the targets.”
Labor had been forecasting 50 per cent of new vehicles sold in 2030 would be EVs and that infrastructure had to be installed in advance. The policy did not involve forcing people to dump their petrol and diesel cars.
And it was similar to many measures supported by the Liberal Party.
The warnings from Scott Morrison, by the kindest assessment, were misleading.
But business has not fallen for the stunt.
Nor have climate change observers worried by the high level of emissions from transport, particularly the nation’s car fleet.
Clean Energy Finance Corporation CEO Ian Learmonth has outlined the scope for change, with some 19,000 businesses operating fleets with 20 vehicles or more, representing more than 2.1 million vehicles.
He believes fleet purchases could drive the turn to EVs, but Australia has not kept pace with technology.
Australia is the world’s 16th largest car market but ranks 21st in terms of new EVs sold, according to the 2019 EV Outlook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
There are about 9,100 EVs in Australia, some 25 per cent lower than the much smaller New Zealand market.
Mr Learmonth said: “The reality is that we need to cut emissions right across our economy, from electricity to transport and more. Australians are already acting on electricity, with more and more of us putting solar PV on our rooftops.
“We can also have a big impact on emissions if we put electric vehicles in our garages, supported by charging infrastructure.”
“In a smaller market like Australia, we know it will take time for more EV models to become available, and for prices to come down so EVs are more affordable for personal buyers. For fleet buyers, where driving needs are different, there is an opportunity for the EV transition to occur more quickly.”
Continue the conversation email@example.com | @farrm51