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EV stakeholders join forces

Plug it: The Electric Vehicle Alliance is a new peak body comprised of key players in the introduction of electric vehicles in Australia.

New Electric Vehicle Alliance set to empower emerging industry

General News logo8 Jul 2011

By RON HAMMERTON

KEY stakeholders in the introduction of electric vehicles in Australia have formed a peak body, the Electric Vehicle Alliance (EVA), to smooth the road for the new-generation cars that are starting to arrive on our roads.

Most of the motor industry’s heavyweight national associations, covering motor manufacturers and importers, parts makers, state motoring clubs, automotive engineers and motor retail trades, have signed up to the new organisation, along with the Energy Networks Association (ENA), representing the energy industry.

They have joined with academic organisations such as Perth’s Curtin University and Melbourne-based AutoCRC to work through the myriad issues concerning the new technology, including regulations, training and energy supply impact.

Although the organisation has yet to find its final form, the member organisations say they are nevertheless already using the channels created by the alliance to exchange information and consult on various issues confronting the new vehicles.

EVA chair Henry O’Clery – veteran campaigner for low-emissions vehicles in Australia and founder of the LEV Automotive Partnership – said the new alliance grew out of discussions between representatives of several of the stakeholders who kept bumping into one another at low-emissions vehicles events.

He said it became clear that a single peak body was needed to disseminate vital information, engage with governments at all levels and assist communication between stakeholders.

“About a year ago we started inviting industry associations to join us, and then we added another one, and then another one, and now we have 10 member organisations,” he said.

So far, the organisation has no staff or permanent quarters, with Mr O’Clery co-ordinating it as part of Future Climate Australia.

This week, five companies with a stake in the emerging industry, including Better Place, Michelin, the RACV, VACC and Nissan, helped to fund an EVA seminar of members and guests in Melbourne as part of Australian Automotive Week and the Australian International Motor Show.

The event drew almost 100 participants, including government officials and academics, who heard an address by keynote speaker Professor Julia King – a leading UK authority on low-carbon vehicles – on research into EV rollout in Britain and that country’s roadmap for low-carbon transport.

Also as part of Australian Automotive Week, the Victorian government put together a display of EV cars and technologies at the motor show, while showgoers were able to test-drive a Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV as part of the promotion.

Renault led a gaggle of brands that unveiled EVs at this year’s AIMS by staging the Australian debut of its Fluence ZE sedan, which has been confirmed for local fleet trials from mid-2012 before it is made available to the public in the final quarter of next year.

The French maker joined forces in Melbourne with EV infrastructure company Better Place and GE - the parent company of Australia’s largest fleet vehicle buyer Custom Fleet, which committed to purchasing at least 1000 EVs in Australia – to unveil the Fluence ZE, the first EV to feature a switchable battery.

GE recently also joined a consortium of companies including Better Place under the EV Engineering banner, which is developing an all-electric plug-in version of Holden's Commodore.

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