A Better Place: Taking A Leaf Out of the Electric Vehicle Log Book
Up to 20% of Australia’s cars could be emissions free by 2020, according to a key player in the global electric vehicle industry, Better Place Australia’s chief executive Evan Thornley, while Nissan will start building its Leaf electric car at its British plant from early 2013, saving more than 2,000 jobs at its factory in Sunderland.
Speaking on ABC1′s Inside Business program (21 March 2010), Better Place Australia’s chief executive Evan Thornley said the change would be driven by motorists in the outer suburbs with larger cars and annual fuel bills of up to $6,000.
By Stephen Letts
Up to 20 per cent of Australia’s cars could be emissions free by 2020, according to a key player in the global electric vehicle industry.
Speaking on ABC1′s Inside Business program, Better Place Australia’s chief executive Evan Thornley said the change would be driven by motorists in the outer suburbs with larger cars and annual fuel bills of up to $6,000.
Mr Thornley says with 51 new plug-in models planned to be on the world market by 2012, there would a tipping point in the industry in the next few years.
He says the growth in sales will become very steep, with the complete conversion to electric vehicles possible within 20 to 30 years.
“We know how the movie ends. Battery prices are going down, petrol prices are going up – that tells you what’s going to happen. It’s just a question of how long that takes,” Mr Thornley said.
“We think it will take between 20 and 25 years for the entire Australian fleet to transition from petrol to electric because it takes a while for things to transition.
“But we think you’ll kick in to the sort of sharp end of that s-curve around the middle to the early second half of this decade.”
Mr Thornley says the transition will provide an enormous opportunity for local car-makers given their experience in building large cars.
“It’s what customers want in this country; it’s what we know how to build; it’s where the money is,” he said.
“There’s more margin in large cars than small cars and I think there’s still a global leadership position open in the large car market.”
Mr Thornley has also confirmed that Victorian motoring club RACV has just invested $2 million in Better Place Australia to speed up the building of infrastructure to support plug-in cars.
Australia will be the third market open in Better Place’s global rollout, after Israel and Denmark.
The first charging stations are due to open in Canberra late next year.
AFP reports (18 March 2010):
Nissan Motor will start building its Leaf electric car at its British plant from early 2013, the Japanese car maker said, saving more than 2,000 jobs.
The factory in Sunderland, northeast England, which will also manufacture the vehicle’s lithium-ion batteries, will be the third earmarked to produce the zero-emission cars after plants in Oppama, Japan and the US state of Tennessee.
The investment of more than 420 million British pounds ($A695.48 million) will help maintain about 2,250 jobs at Nissan and across its British supply chain, the company said in a statement.
Initial output will be about 50,000 vehicles a year from early 2013.
The Leaf is due to go on sale worldwide this year with production beginning in Japan, while the US factory will start in 2012.
“The three production sites will support the sales launch of the model, which begins in late 2010 in Japan, the United States and selected European markets, ahead of global mass marketing from 2012,” the company said.
Nissan said construction of its battery plant at Sunderland will begin next month.
With a capacity of 60,000 units a year, it will start making batteries in 2012 for both Nissan and its alliance partner Renault.
The investment will be supported by a 20.7 million pound grant from the British government and a proposed finance package from the European Investment Bank of up to 220 million euros ($A327.38 million), it said.
“The world is at the dawn of a new era in automotive transport,” said Andy Palmer, senior vice president at Nissan Motor.
“Nissan Leaf, which will go on sale later this year, is a five-seater hatchback that offers the same space, practicality and performance of a similar car in its class – minus the tailpipe emissions.”
Zero-emission cars are gaining traction as concern has grown over the pollution caused by conventional petrol cars.
Mitsubishi Motors last year rolled out the i-MiEV, and Fuji Heavy the Subaru Plug-in Stella, both in Japan.
Toyota, which has focused on hybrids, has promised to launch its own version by 2012 and started leasing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle since late last year, one year earlier than initially planned