Tony O'Kane | May 8, 2009

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has set up its own working group to examine the challenges faced by importers and manufacturers of electric and plug-in hybrid cars in Australia.

The group will primarily be concerned with assessing what plug-in electric cars will need in terms of infrastructure and what impact, if any, their unique configuration may have on things like registration and compliance.

"Many manufacturers have announced plans to release electric vehicles in the next few years and we must ensure that Australia is ready for this technology," FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

"The working group will consult relevant external stakeholders as well as state and federal governments to ensure a nationally-consistent approach is maintained,"

FCAI spokesman James Goodwin told TMR that the final number of group members had yet to be determined, but around 20 representatives from various automakers had attended the working group's first meeting earlier this week. The Electric Vehicle Working Group is likely to be made up of 6-8 manufacturer representatives.

mit_imiev_01_s

As the working group is only made up of FCAI members (who must be either vehicle importers or manufacturers), green energy groups such as Better Place and battery manufacturers and recyclers aren't eligible to take part. They will, however, be consulted, as will all relevant government bodies.

The findings of the group will be especially important over the coming years, as a number of new all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars are slated to enter Aussie showrooms. Mitsubishi's i MiEV (above) is one that's virtually locked in for Australia, while we broke the news earlier this week that smart's fortwo ed (below) is also coming Down Under.

smart fortwo ed

Add those to the Holden Volt and plug-in Prius that should be arriving here soon, and you've already got a decent number of cars that can run on electron power alone. The way in which these cars integrate into the Australian motoring environment may largely be determined by the findings of the FCAI's working group.

The FCAI told TMR that we can expect to see the working group's first recommendations released later this month, so watch this space.

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