Labor pledges EV industry development fund

One week out from the federal election, Labor have announced plans to fund $57 million of electric vehicle research and production in Australia. The strategy will create an “Electric Vehicle Innovation Council”, introduce new safety standards for EV charging installations, and help develop emerging battery technologies.

Money talks

Labor have gotten in early on EVs as they prepare to release their election policy platform costings today. The $57 million allocated to electric vehicle component production and research has been dubbed the ‘Electric Vehicle Manufacturing and Innovation Strategy’ and will be distributed through business grants and research investment.

The fund will include $30 million for an EV research and development initiative, $25 million to prepare businesses for electrification and production of EV components, and $2 million to support sodium ion battery production in Geelong.

The “Electric Vehicle Manufacturing and Innovation Strategy” will be implemented alongside their headline-grabbing policy to boost EVs to 50% of all new car sales by 2030, as well as 50% of the government fleet by 2025. It will form part of the $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Future Fund.

NSW Labor have also published details that new safety standards will be introduced for charging station installations:

“Labor’s strategy will [...] ensure national access and safety concerns about EV charging in homes and commercial buildings are incorporated in Australian standards and in future revisions to the National Construction Code.”

Industry standards will be further maintained through the establishment of an “Electric Vehicle Innovation Council” composed of industry, union, government, and research representatives. This body will plan development of EV technology and infrastructure nationwide and identify priorities for research and investment.

The Coalition have yet to release any dedicated EV policy or industry development plan. Labor clearly believes that a strategy built around job creation and domestic research can establish Australia as a global leader in this growing sector.

Potential for Australia

EVs still only make up a very small percentage of car sales worldwide, but are expected to reach price parity with combustion vehicles by 2025. With early investment and an integrated approach, there’s no reason this plan can’t revitalise Australia’s lost vehicle manufacturing industry. The last Aussie production cars rolled off the line in 2017.

Even in the absence of whole-vehicle manufacturing, Australia has a natural advantage in component and battery production thanks to our wide range of mineral assets. Lithium production (and demand) is growing fast and many manufacturers would be likely to invest in domestic manufacture if incentivised by a policy such as this.

Check back at the JET Charge blog for further updates from the Australian EV industry and the federal election. We’ll be covering any EV policies as they emerge to see what they mean for Australian EV owners and prospective buyers.