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Politcal inaction unplugging EVs – Renault

Blackout: The Zoe may have stalled, but the Kangoo ZE EV light-commercial van is still a going concern, says Renault Australia.

Renault Australia boss says politicians not focused on benefits of EVs

4 Feb 2015

A LACK of a visible electric vehicle policy from either side of government is putting the brakes on meaningful EV rollout in Australia, according to Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar.

With several projects, including the small Zoe hatch, in the planning phase, Mr Hocevar said that the lack of any incentives and the lack of any structure around supporting the commercialisation of electric vehicles in Australia makes it difficult to launch cars of that ilk.

“We’re quite interested in Zoe, we’d like to see it in the Australian market, but it’s fair to say that pretty much all spectrums of the political landscape are devoid of any policy of any significance here,” Mr Hocevar told GoAuto.

“We’ve had some dialogue, and we’ll continue to ramp that up, but it’s just not high on their agenda at the moment. There needs to be some catalyst to help people get off the fence, and take a position on the issue.”

Mr Hocevar pointed to the electric Kangoo ZE – which is undergoing a trial with Australia Post – as an example of Renault’s commitment to EVs, and indicated that it is planning a wider roll-out of the small van in 2015.

“We’re working on some other trial projects at the moment with that vehicle.

There’s a possibility that those trials will turn into sourcing on a per-order basis – and not in a traditional sense of ‘hey everybody, here’s the car, it’s in the dealerships so rush in and buy it’, but more of a b to b (business to business) approach.”

Mr Hocevar said that other EV resellers are actively exchanging information on infrastructure and uniformity of technology, but also warned that progress on securing incentives for potential buyers of EVs is still some way off.

“Through the FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries) there is a special EV group, and we have involvement in that, but I don’t know to what extend their focus is on campaigning for incentives and support.”“It’s a bit of an assumption in saying this, but I think most of the focus is on harmonising technology, infrastructure and technical alignments.”

Renault's Fluence ZE small sedan was also set for launch in Australia, but the car-maker put the brakes on the project in late 2012, shortly before EV infrastructure provider Better Place – the company that would have provided the Fluence's batteries – went into liquidation.

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