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First EV Built In Australia Is No Tesla Killer

Last year, EV sales in Australia were 0.2% of total sales. A tiny startup near Brisbane hopes to change all that but could use just a smidgen of help from the federal government.

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A small startup called ACE EV located south of Brisbane, Australia wants to build 100 of its all-electric 2 seat utility vans this year, but getting started has involved a lot of hard work and very little cooperation from the federal government.

ACE EV electric cargo van

Credit: ACE EV

The vehicle, called simply Cargo, uses carbon fiber body panels manufactured in China and Taiwan that are shipped to Australia and glued together by ACE EV. If the process of putting an electric motor, a battery pack, and a prefab body together to make an electric vehicle sounds familiar, it is because that is how the original StreetScooter in Germany came to be.

The Cargo will sell for AUS $40,000 (the official exchange rate versus the US dollar is 71:100, which would make it $28,437). The Cargo is intended strictly for commercial customers at first. Later, the company hopes to add other models to the lineup, including an inexpensive two-door hatchback with seats for two people and small pickup truck, which the Australians call a “ute.” But first the company needs to make some money.

ACE EV Urban

Greg McGarvie, the founder of ACE EV, is distressed at the lack of support for his venture in Australia. He tells ABC News that a similar venture in New Zealand would rewarded investors with 50% matching funds but Australia has no such programs for companies like ACE EV.

“All we want government to say is look, we think this is a great idea. What can we do to help?” McGarvie says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be money.” As the result of a lack of charging infrastructure and government policies that support a nascent electric car industry, EV sales in Australia accounted for only 0.2% of new car sales.

That’s a pitiful record at a time when China and Europe are pushing hard to get more electric vehicles on the road. Despite government promises, “It’s not happening as quickly and as honestly as we would like. It’s about us taking responsibility for the next generation, both in jobs and innovation. But more importantly, to reduce our carbon impact. What we have here is nothing like Tesla — it’s nothing like any of the other automakers,” McGarvie says.

ACE EV Yewt electric pickup

Tony Fairweather heads a company in Victoria that converts heavy trucks to electric power. He tells ABC News, “We’ve now got activity in the US and Europe and Asia — all sectors that have substantial incentives and support for this space. Australia is only just starting down that path.

“We are absolutely the least-progressed developed market in the world in terms of supporting and incentivising EV uptake. It’s a little bit embarrassing to be honest. Australia’s got a really exciting opportunity but it’s a small window of opportunity to take advantage of this revolution.”

McGarvey today is about where Tesla founders Mark Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard were in 2005. In other words, Australia is almost a full generation behind the rest of the world when it comes to electric vehicles, thanks to a total failure by the federal government to address climate change seriously.

Every major city in Australia is threatened by rising sea levels, but the country’s leaders prefer to kick the can down the road for as long as possible. Perhaps when the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay go underwater, they will start to pay attention, but of course, by then, it will be much, much too late.

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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