AADA has welcomed the release of a report by the Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Electric Vehicles, but disagrees with its suggestion that Australia’s retail automotive Dealers were failing to promote growth in EV sales.
The report was critical of a ‘policy vacuum’ that has so far kept the EV industry from growing, warning that Australia would miss out on the coming ‘transport revolution’.
“(Electric vehicle) uptake in Australia lags behind that of other comparable countries due to a relative absence of overarching policy direction from Australian governments,” the report said.
AADA CEO, David Blackhall, said AADA supports the Senate Committee’s report on electric vehicles but is disappointed by evidence suggesting Dealers are not promoting the sale of EVs.
“There are some important recommendations in this report and new car Dealers are looking forward to playing our part in supplying EVs to the Australian market,” he said.
“We are supportive of a public education campaign and a coordinated approach to skills and training. We are also supportive of a CO2 standard and Australia should work towards an achievable standard that does not punish local consumers and businesses.
“It is also encouraging that the Committee has not recommended a relaxation of used car imports as was suggested by certain groups. It is, however, very disappointing that this report has mentioned evidence claiming that car Dealers are not interested in promoting and selling electric vehicles. This assertion, which was repeated by certain groups throughout the inquiry, is completely false.”
Mr Blackhall said that to resist selling EVs would reduce profits and put Dealers in breach of their franchising agreements with vehicle manufacturers, potentially risking their businesses.
“In our numerous representations to this committee, we consistently made the point that new car Dealers are technology agnostic and will sell whatever vehicles our customers want,” Mr Blackhall said.
“Unfortunately, the authors of this report have quoted the Tesla Owners Club and ignored the evidence of Australia’s 1,500 franchised new car Dealers and the 70,000 people they employ.
“Electric vehicles are part of the future and Dealers are determined to be part of a thriving industry which supplies them to the market – the primary reason that they are not yet selling well is related to supply, cost and range.”
Talking down the efforts of the tens of thousands of dealership employees across Australia will do nothing to accelerate the uptake of EVs.
The senate committee warned that, should governments fail to act, Australia will miss out on the environmental, health, social and economic benefits of the growing industry
“Australia is on the cusp of the most significant disruption and transformation of our transport system since the advent of the internal combustion engine,” the report said.
“Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, cost savings for vehicle owner-operators, increased job opportunities and economic growth, improved health outcomes and increased fuel security are just some of the benefits that Australia can realise as EV use begins to climb.”
The committee made 17 recommendations, including calling for a national plan to manage the rollout of electric cars.
Other recommendations include a dedicated taskforce to develop the plan, a national target to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles on Australian roads, more ‘coordination’ with operators to expand the existing charging network, and a national target for government fleets.
There are currently 12,691 vehicles in the Commonwealth fleet, but only 12 are electric.
On costings obtained by independent senator, Tim Storer, it would cost an extra $5m by 2022 to start converting half the government fleet to electric by 2025, or an extra $2.7m to do the same by 2030.
Further recommendations coming out of the report included the need for an aspirational target for Australia’s road fleet, similar to New Zealand’s, and a Formula E championship race to encourage consumer interest.
New electric showroom opens in Sydney
As proof that Dealers are not biased against EVs, Col Crawford Hyundai’s showroom officially opened at Brookvale in Sydney on February 15.
The 50-year-old dealership claims to have “the widest selection of electric and hybrid cars that have been presented by one dealership in Australia”. These are mainly from Hyundai, BMW and Renault.
The dealership has three EV chargers.