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Hyundai wants to restart EV infrastructure dialogue

Plug in: Australia’s EV infrastructure is growing, making battery-electric models like the Ioniq Electric a much more viable proposition, but Hyundai says there is still work to be done.

Post-election silence on infrastructure at odds with expected EV boom: Hyundai

5 Nov 2019

HYUNDAI has called for the Australian federal government to recommence progressive dialogue surrounding zero-emissions vehicles and the appropriate amount of national infrastructure required to support them, after months of no talks following the Morrison government’s election victory in May. 


Hyundai Motor Company Australia senior manager of future mobility and government relations Scott Nargar said that while there was much achieved with the Coalition prior to the election, the government may find that essential infrastructure and services may not keep up with the anticipated growing demand for electric vehicles (EV).


“We’re not seeing any change any time soon with emissions regulations in Australia,” he told the Australian press at the launch of the facelifted Hyundai Ioniq in Sydney last week.


“In the lead up to the election this year, myself and a number of other guys in the industry – FCAI, oil companies and Australian Automobile Association (AAA) – worked very hard with the current government in the lead up to the election to look at emissions regulations for Australia.


“We were very close, with the decision either for 2025 or 2030, unfortunately post-election, emissions regulations are off the table. I can’t find anyone in Canberra to talk about it. But we spent months and years talking about it, with Minister Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher and the department.


“So, we’re a company that’s kind of at a standstill at the moment, with the next three years to the next election, it can be around May 2021, but there’s no conversation around emissions regulations.”


Mr Nargar wants a national approach to Australia’s EV strategy moving forward so the country does not fall further behind. This includes consistent charging infrastructure that helps make the transition from internal-combustion engines as painlessly simple as possible.


“It’s for the users of the technology – the mums and dads, the governments, the businesses – what’s the easiest way for them to use the technology and get access to it,” he said. “If we’re not having these robust discussions now, in 10 years we will be 20 years behind Europe and North America.”


Although the local authorities are dragging their feet on setting emissions targets and building EV infrastructure, Mr Nargar said that Hyundai and other manufacturers are producing ever-greater numbers of electrified vehicles to keep up with much stricter pollution controls in markets such as Europe – meaning that EVs are here to stay and will become more prevalent from here on in.


“Behind the scenes, the industry is still working, still working from an FCAI perspective, as to what’s going to happen if the next government to get in will be a Labor government, and what we’re doing here at Hyundai is introducing vehicles right now that will meet the regulations of the future,” he revealed. “And at the end of the day, countries around the world are already transitioning towards a zero-emissions future.


“Emissions regulations are coming, affecting internal-combustion engines starting from 2025 onwards in some countries in Europe, and we’re seeing that transition starting to impact us here in Australia. Vehicles are coming in and consumers are having more choice, not from just our brand, but also other brands bringing eco cars in.


“But if we not working with government and industry planning the infrastructure right now, we’re going to have big problems when those buyers start coming in in much bigger numbers.”


While calling it a challenge, Mr Nagar did reveal that there has been some progress made with the federal government over the last few years, and that he will continue to engage with all politicians to help educate them.


“We keep meeting with ministers, keep heading down in Canberra meeting the Coalition and the opposition,” he said. “We go down to speak to everyone to make sure they’re fully aware of what’s coming – and they’re fully aware of what’s happening overseas.


“How do we encourage investment in infrastructure? Whether that’s councils investing, whether it’s national networks through co-funding with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (or ARENA, established by the Gillard Labor government in 2012 to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia) … we’re going to very hard to make sure that all levels of government are looking at the future.


“And they are investing… through ARENA it is investing a lot of money, such as a $15 million into the EV network and $6 million into Jet Charge, and there’s more of those on the way, and we know there are more of those on the way, as we know a lot of the conversations that are happening, because to justify infrastructure going in, we have to make sure there are cars there and the car manufacturers know where some of these big super hubs are in the future.”    


Ultimately, Mr Nargar believes that Australia will fall line with the rest of the world with EV uptake because that is where the world is moving to.


“(Hyundai continues to) study the market, understand what is happening in Australia, what the transition is, is the government looking to the adoption of EVs in Australia,” he said, “… because it’s really the market that determines what kind of cars you can get in.


“If there’s a change of government in May 2021, things can shift very rapidly for everyone in Australia, so there could be an influx in technology if that happens.


“Let’s try to get the technology on the road and move this country forward.”

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