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EV take-up ‘to hit high gear soon’

Ready to roll: The new Nissan Leaf is confirmed for launch in Australia in the Japanese financial year that starts in April.

Local governments could help lead EV acceptance in Australia: Nissan

Nissan logo7 Feb 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON

AUSTRALIAN consumer acceptance of electric vehicles is inevitable, according to a senior Nissan executive who says governments of all levels could join with car-makers to accelerate the shift to e-mobility.

Nissan Motor Asia Pacific regional vice-president of marketing and sales, Asia & Oceania, Vincent Wijnen, made the comments at the Nissan Futures event in Singapore this week, where the Japanese car-maker brought together senior executives, government officials from South East Asia and Australia, academic experts and other stakeholders to discuss the future of electrified and autonomous automotive technology in Asia-Oceania.

Mr Wijnen told GoAuto at the event that he believed co-operation between car manufacturers and governments was key to increasing EV acceptance, adding that it was only a matter of time before EVs became common in Australia.

“What I have seen in Europe before, there were many markets that were not so much engaged,” he said.

“The moment they do, it accelerates extremely fast, because then suddenly the infrastructure is created.”

Mr Wijnen said local governments were often key to driving EV acceptance through charging infrastructure.

“What I have seen in other markets, it is not just national government, it is initiated by local government,” he said. “The big cities – Melbourne, Sydney – if they decide to start putting in place some policies that encourage people to move towards zero emission cars, at that moment you will see an acceleration.

“Because if one does it, then the other ones will do it and the (federal) government will do it.”

Mr Wijnen said the roll out of other electrified vehicle technologies including hybrids and range extenders would also help increase awareness of green vehicle tech among consumers.

“I think the perception sometimes is that people don’t understand what driving an EV means,” he said.

Mr Wijnen said Nissan did not have targets for the number of electrified vehicles it would sell in Australia by a certain time.

“It doesn’t work like that,” he said. “If it was a traditional car we would have a very clear target. The aspiration is as many (sales) as possible, not because we want to sell that many cars, but we think it is the future anyhow.

“We have learned this from launching the markets where it has exponentially grown. It is very hard to predict. It is not dependent only on us.”

Mr Wijnen said that when the new Leaf was introduced in Europe in October, 10,000 were sold in the first two months even though test cars were not available at the time.

“Predicting that is impossible,” he said.

Senior vice-president of market research firm Frost and Sullivan Vivek Vaidya detailed research that showed the awareness of, and intention to buy, an electrified vehicle had risen in South East Asia.

The firm’s latest white paper showed that a little more than a third (37 per cent) of prospective car buyers in the region were open to considering an EV as their next vehicle.

While take-up of electrified vehicles in the region was still low, the survey showed that consumers were aware of the differences between full battery EVs, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and range extenders such as Nissan’s e-Power models, with the highest association for EVs for BEVs (battery electric vehicles) at 83 per cent of respondents.

Interestingly, two out of three respondents identified safety standards as the most important factor if they were to purchase an EV, ahead of charging convenience.

Customers surveyed also said cost was not a deterrent to buying an EV, and that they were willing to pay more than a conventional internal combustion engine car.

However, three in four respondents said they would be ready to switch to an EV if there were incentives such as tax waivers for environmentally friendly cars.

Other appealing incentives identified in the survey were charging stations in apartment buildings (70 per cent), priority lanes for electric vehicles (56 per cent) and free parking (53 per cent).

The study was commissioned by Nissan and based on 1800 customer interviews across six countries in ASEAN.

The car-maker used the Nissan Futures event to confirm the launch of the new Leaf in a number of South East Asian countries including Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

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