EVs a risk without Government support
Australia risks becoming a dumping ground for old technology cars if the Federal Government doesn’t take action on electric cars.
That’s the view of Hyundai as it launches its first electric model, the Ioniq, into the local market without any government support. The South Korean brand has priced the Ioniq electric small car from $44,490 (plus on-road costs) which makes it the cheapest EV on sale today, but still more expensive than the equivalent-sized petrol-powered small car.
The Ioniq range also comes with a plug-in hybrid and conventional hybrid powertrain to give buyers a choice of more fuel efficient engines.
Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer, Scott Grant, said the company is taking a risk by introducing the Ioniq range without any government support, having watched Holden’s plug-in hybrid Volt come and go quickly from the market in recent years.
“There is a leap of faith here, but in that we feel there is an advantage of being first mover, even though there have been some electric products come and go in the past,” Grant said. “We’re mindful that, depending on how you look at it they weren’t successful and they certainly weren’t sustained. So is that going to occur for us? Yeah, those doubts are there, those concerns are there.
“But at some point, from an action point-of-view, you see the rest of the world making claims, making statements and actually changing policy and outlawing certain types of historical combustion engines and the likes, it’s got to come here at some point, surely? We can’t stay behind the rest of the world forever.”
Internationally, several major markets have announced plans to ban internal combustion engines by 2040, including the United Kingdom and France. That has meant several European car makers have already announced plans to electrify their entire line-up of models within the next decade.
Hyundai has committed to introducing 38 “eco-friendly” models by 2025, starting with the Ioniq and then the Kona EV set to follow shortly, arriving in Australia in the first quarter of 2019.
With key developed markets moving towards an electrified future, Grant said Australia must act soon or risk becoming a market that gets outdated technology. But he put the onus on the Federal Government to set the agenda that the car industry can then work to.
“Are we an advanced, high-tech country and marketplace, or are we a secondary market that is following as the rest of the world is moving on? Or are we even further behind that? A really slow market to act,” Grant asked.
“What sort of marketplace do we want to be? The answer to that question comes from government who set the framework and the policy for the market we want to be.”
If the government moves to support electrified vehicles Grant is confident Hyundai will have the models ready to offer to the Australian market, with the Ioniq range just the beginning.
“Globally there are [more than] 30 models coming,” he said. “That shows you type of organisation we are, progressive, high-tech organisation looking forward. It’s more a matter of when we introduce those products to Australia.
“If you think about the narrative from the government and the community in general over the last five years and where it is today, things have advanced in the space a lot. There’s a lot more openness, a lot more awareness or interest and that’s combined with the opportunity that’s presented from our parent company. We think the market is more conditioned and ready and we think our parent company is more mature in its product development and availability.”
Asked if that could extend to more electric variants of existing models, such as the i30 hatch and Sante Fe SUV, along with the Kona, Grant said: “I think those things are eminently possible.”
Stephen has been interested in cars as long as he can remember. Speed is in the blood as his great-grandfather was a motor racing pioneer in Australia, establishing several land speed and racing records. Based in Sydney, professionally he has been writing about everything on four-wheels since 2001…