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FCAI acts on EVs

Plug for Holden: GM plans to sell its Volt here in 2012 but other car-makers could sell electric cars in Australia as soon as next year.

Industry working group to tackle local electric vehicle issues

General News logo4 May 2009

WITH electric vehicles set to become more widely available in Australia within the next few years, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has acted to ensure that the roll-out runs as smoothly as possible.

A new FCAI electric vehicle working group will meet for the first time in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The EV working group will initially discuss issues such as when the new cars will be available, what sort of charge systems and infrastructure they will require, how they will meet safety standards, terms to be used in advertising and measures for emergency rescue services to deal with incidents involving EVs.

Underlining GM’s stated intention of leading the world on EVs – even though its hybrid Volt will not reach the Australian market until about 2012, two years after the expected debut of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV – the initial meeting is taking place at Holden’s Port Melbourne head office.

FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar said the first meeting was open to all FCAI members, but that a smaller “task force” would need to be created to work on the issues identified for attention going forward.

“There are quite a number of things that need to be done,” Mr McKellar told GoAuto this week.

“Individually, the brands have been thinking about these things for some time and it’s a matter of seeing where we can take on some of the load to co-ordinate across brands and across the industry.

80 center imageLeft: FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar.

“It’s an area where a number of brands are looking to put in place some forward planning and to do that on a coordinated industry-wide basis makes very good sense. It ensures that we take a co-ordinated approach across the industry to the introduction of electric vehicles.

“The technology’s moved quite rapidly in the last few years and the planning that’s put in place and the product development by brands has also moved ahead appreciably in that time.

“We need to look at the experience that’s been accrued elsewhere in the world and make sure that those standards (such as common plugs) are being picked up and adopted in the Australian context as they’re being developed internationally rather than delaying anyone’s plans to introduce product into the Australian market.” The EV working group will be expected to prepare a detailed scoping paper along with preferred positions and actions by the end of May, along with priorities and timelines.

It will have to deal with potential infrastructure providers (such as Better Place) and work with governments on EV classifications for registration purposes and associated government charges.

“Things are moving rapidly,” said Mr McKellar. “There’s a need to identify the full range of stakeholders – it’s the industry, it’s government, potential customers, fleets in particular, and there’s a range of commercial infrastructure providers scoping the market – so there’s a need to co-ordinate with them as well.

“We’ve seen quite a change in expectations around these types of vehicles – even in the last two or three years they’ve really come onto the radar screen – so we need to accelerate the preparation within the industry to ensure we’re well-placed to help facilitate their rapid uptake in Australia as they become available.” Mr McKellar said this week’s meeting would provide a better understanding of when EVs would be coming to the Australian market, whether they will just be pilot programs to fleets, when that will translate into broader market availability and how quickly that will impact overall market sales.

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