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As sparks fly over EV future Tesla looks to build WA service centre

As sparks fly over EV future Tesla looks to build WA service centre


As the political debate over Australia’s electric vehicle future rages manufacturers including Tesla are already chipping away at building the infrastructure to support it and enthusiasts are excited.

There are more than 70 charging stations in WA already, most in the state’s south.

The RAC has the south west covered while companies like Chargestar have chargers scattered across the state.

Tesla’s first WA supercharging station was installed at the Eaton Fair shopping centre in Bunbury in 2017 but has not installed any others since. The company plans to have more than 30 sites up and running across the country by the end of 2019—up from 21 in 2018.

The company is also quietly looking at opening a service centre in Perth, which would be the first of its kind in WA.

Last month Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk responded simply with ‘Ok’ when begged by an owner to set up a centre in Perth.

The cars are currently serviced by a roving mechanic and the company confirmed to WAtoday a centre was ‘coming soon’ as its website suggested.

Powerful incentive

WA electric vehicle enthusiasts are frustrated by the current debate over electric vehicles but are optimistic uptake will boom by itself as cars get cheaper.

The debate has been raging over Labor’s electric vehicle policy, announced earlier this month, which will see EVs make up 50 per cent of new car sales by 2030 and tax incentives for businesses that buy them.

The policy prompted a rebuke from the coalition who criticised any attempt to mandate the type of cars the public buys.

The Australian Energy market Operator recently estimated within 20-years EVs could account for more than half of Australia’s 19 million car fleet but in 2018 a little over 1300 were sold. Fully-electric vehicles have only recently hit showroom floors at under $50,000.

The Tesla Owners Club of WA has been vocal in its support of EV acceptance in the state and chair Rob Dean said Labor’s policy was conservative and once the high cost of the vehicles come down the public would naturally move to them.

“I expect by 2027 the only new vehicles available will be fully electric or hybrid due to the lower purchase price and total cost of ownership,” he said.

“Once you get manufacturing speeds up, once you get production lines producing cars they’re cheaper to build.

“You get the battery cost down, the manufacturing down and they’ll put them on the showroom floor at a cheaper price or the same price as petrol.

“To me the future is set, it’s going to happen, the politicians just need to stop arguing about it and prepare for it.”

Mr Dean said where the government needed to step in was to help build a national fast-charging network that has been flagged by Infrastructure Australia to combat range-anxiety.

“What people need, the people who install the charging facilities, they need some surety that the government will support them on this,” he said.

“The big companies here are reluctant to do that until they get some surety into the market.

“The government doesn’t have to spend any money; they just have to a positive attitude and be prepared to support these guys.

“There is too much political bickering and not getting on with something that’s inevitable.”

Club secretary Harald Murphy was one of the first to drive an EV around Australia and said if government’s did almost nothing Australia would hit Labor’s target.

“We’ll just accept whatever is coming,” he said.

“People wont buy electric cars because they have to, it will be because it’s such a compelling reason. They will be so much cheaper to run.”

Service issues
According to the motor industry another aspect has been lost in the debate, the workforce to service the next generation vehicles.

Motor Trades Association Australia chief executive Richard Dudley said there was no question fully-electric, hydrogen and hybrids cars would become increasingly available to consumers but there were serious concerns about the training available for those servicing them.

“We have a far more pressing need and that is to have the right skills in place to service not only today’s vehicles but also tomorrow’s,” he said.

“We don’t have a national uniform qualification for a motor vehicle technician to work on electric vehicles.

“There may be skill sets that can be obtained from dealers and manufacturer specifically but we don’t have a national uniform qualification that would be anywhere near capable of handling potentially 50 per cent of the fleet starting from 2030.

“We need to sit down as an industry and partner with government to develop a proper approach and plan for the skills we need.”

Source: smh.com.au
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network


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