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EVs not a threat for parts sector, yet: AAAA

Rolled into the shop: Although electric vehicles use fewer moving parts than petrol- and diesel-powered cars, the AAAA is confident the parts industry will still be required to provide components such as wheels and suspension.

Aussie aftermarket has ‘long and bright future’ as carparc grows, despite EV trend

5 Apr 2019

LOCALLY designed and produced components and aftermarket products and services are not under threat with the move towards towards mass-market adoption of electric vehicles, according to Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) chief executive Stuart Charity.
Speaking to GoAuto at the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo in Melbourne this week, Mr Charity said EVs will still require attention from parts suppliers and service providers, despite specialist components and a decrease in mechanical complexity compared to an internal combustion-engined car.
“If you look at an electric vehicle, there’s a lot of parts that are on an internal combustion engine that will disappear,” he said. 
“Having said that, they’ll still need servicing, they’ll still need tyres, wheels, suspension, all the systems calibrated on them and so on.”
Mr Charity also said the local market has some unique challenges to first overcome before EVs can become mainstream, and even when emissions-free models are more widespread, there will still be the ageing Australian carparc to service.
“The only thing I’d say, with electric vehicles, is that we need to be realistic with the current volumes and some of the specific challenges that Australia has in terms of the size of our continent and the infrastructure,” he said.
“We’ve got unreliable power, coal-fired predominately and very expensive power at the moment, so you put half the vehicles on Australian roads on the grid at the moment and we’re going to have big problems.
“We haven’t got our head in the sand about electric vehicles, but we need to be realistic about the timeframe.
“At the moment in Australia the average age of vehicles is 10 years, so even the most optimistic assumptions that maybe half the vehicle sales by 2030 are electric, we’re seeing 500,000 new vehicles added to the overall carparc in Australia each year.
“We think we’ve got a long and bright future before we have to worry about the proliferation of electric.”
With plans to open two new Automotive Innovation Centres (AIC) in Victoria and South Australia later this year and in 2020 respectively to accelerate component development, Mr Charity said the parts industry is rebounding strongly after the closure of local vehicle manufacturing in 2017.
“A lot of the industry and general commentators were viewing the shutdown of the car industry as effectively being the death knell of all automotive manufacturing in Australia,” he said.
“We never believed that and the facts are that that never happened. If anything, our industry continues to go from strength to strength.
“At the moment, the automotive aftermarket manufacturing industry comprises around 300 companies, they produce collectively $5 billion worth of product, export $1 billion of that internationally and employee 21,000 people directly.”
The AIC will also play a key role in rearing the next-generation of automotive engineers and designers, as Mr Charity confirmed links with student programs including the global Formula SAE racing series.
“One of the biggest concerns I have for the future of our manufacturing industry is that this sort of myth that there aren’t good careers anymore in automotive product manufacturing and automotive component design,” he said.
“We want to change that perception.
“We will very much be working with the engineering schools of the major universities and we’ve already reached out to a number of those.
“We certainly want to plug in to (Formula SAE), we want to bring school groups through and show them the advanced manufacturing process that happens, and that there are exciting engineering careers available.
“We really see this as a showcase of our industry … Australia can and will continue to manufacture things.”

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