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BMW’s Werner blasts government climate inaction

Talk and action: BMW Group Australia chief executive Marc Werner was not backward in coming forward on his views on the federal government’s climate change policy at a recent media launch.

Chief executive of BMW takes federal government to task over climate change

9 Jun 2017

BMW Group Australia chief executive Marc Werner has again attacked the federal government for sitting on its hands when it comes to addressing climate change and its inaction on encouraging the wider acceptance of low-emissions and emissions-free vehicles in Australia.

The German head of BMW Australia took aim at the current Coalition government, which has not given any indication that it intends to support an incentive program to improve the take-up of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, despite committing to the Paris climate change agreement in 2016.

“Our government is so far behind the times in their view of climate change, that they probably think we are still getting around in horses and carts,” he said at the launch of the 530e plug-in hybrid in Sydney this week.

“For a developed country, Australia has shocking emission levels, worse than 34 other countries in the world. Worse than what we would call non-industrialised or third-world countries. And, the government, well the government subscribes to a policy of avoidance, rhetoric, and inaction. Particularly, inaction. That seems to be the key behaviour. And, that is hard to understand, because electrification of the Australian fleet would bring so many benefits.” Mr Werner listed general health, cleaner air, a reduction in illnesses such as asthma, lower health costs, economic growth, Australia’s reputation as a leader in adopting green tech, less reliance on foreign oil, less air and noise pollution and a reduction in greenhouse gases as key benefits of electrification.

“This is a technology that all major manufacturers across the world have subscribed to. That the majority has invested in, committed to, planned for, and embraced, except Australia. Our government has stuck their collective heads in the sand. They are hoping it will all go away. It’s crazy,” Mr Werner added.

He said that BMW Australia will press on with its roll out of green automotive solutions, despite the government’s inaction, by offering a full range of EV and PHEV models, including the i3 and i8, 330e, 530e, 740e and X5 xDrive40e.

Mr Werner added that one of the barriers for buyers opting for an EV or PHEV has traditionally been the premium that is charged over regular petrol or diesel counterparts. The car-maker is working to change that and now offers the 530e for the same price as its 530i sibling, while the X5 plug-in now matches the xDrive40d pricing.

He also pointed out that the development of the technology was moving much faster than government policy development and highlighted some of BMW’s most recent advances.

“Now, while the Australian government has been sleeping, the innovation of EV technology marches on, and we have seen some remarkable developments. The battery range of our EVs has improved dramatically. When the i3 was launched in 2014 the range was just about 130 km. In just 18 months, with the release of the BMW i3 94 amp, the range has increased to around 200km in real world driving. It’s almost double the original range within just 18 months. So, the technology is improving faster than you would have believed.”

While Mr Werner praised the recent creation of the Electric Vehicle Council , a body made up of a number of industry payers and car-makers including BMW and Mitsubishi to help lobby the government to change its policy, he said more could be done.

“There are a couple of changes that we do see, the most recent Electric Vehicle Council for example. Something is happening there. The question is whether this is happening fast enough. We as a brand believe that we could certainly accelerate the activities. The solutions are on the table. If you think about incentives, we would certainly appreciate, let’s call them adaptation of what we see in other markets, if the Australian government would just pursue that.

It is easy to do.

“If you think about the clear legal framework from the government as far as policy is concerned to substantially reduce CO2 emissions, which would then also provide the consumer with the confidence to go ahead with an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid vehicle. These are clear government tasks and everyone around the world is aware of those. And it is do-able. It is not that we are asking for something outrageous here.” He also pointed to the country’s continued reliance on brown coal for its energy and suggested that BMW was working on something that would promote the use of green energy in Australia.

“While I cannot reveal details at the moment, I can tell you that BMW is currently in discussions with an energy supplier that is committed to extending the reach of renewable power within the Australian grid.”

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