It is common knowledge that the Australian automobile industry, despite attracting significant subsidies from the Australian government, is in freefall. It will therefore come as a welcome surprise that the likes of Tesla and BMW see the Australian marketplace as vital to the future of their overseas EV sales at a time when the electric vehicle industry is going from strength to strength.
The Tesla Model S, seen by some as the most successful electric vehicle to date, was originally scheduled for introduction to the Australian market in early 2013, but this has now been put back to 2014. This is in no way a reflection on the underlying strength of the Australian economy or the Australian electric vehicle market but simply the fact that the vehicle itself has been more popular than expected in the U.S. and production numbers need to be ramped up.
Future EV releases
While Tesla has been forced to put back the introduction of its Model S until mid-2014 it is interesting to see that BMW will be introducing the BMW i3 around the same time. Indeed BMW Australia spokeswoman Lenore Taylor suggested that "it's been a long time coming but 2014 is finally looking like the dawn of the EV." This is certainly high praise from BMW and would seem to indicate that not only are electric vehicles becoming more popular around the world but many of the luxury EV manufacturers see Australia as a prominent future marketplace.
If we look back at the future of EVs in Australia, and indeed around the world, it is littered with failures and financial collapses. It is therefore certainly a feather in the cap of the EV enthusiasts to see the industry going from strength to strength and companies which have focused upon America in the early days, now looking towards other major markets.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "Last week I setup an appointment for a test drive with the new Model S. I've seen the car, sat in it, and messed around with the display previously in the show room, and have been waiting for them to get a test drive vehicle locally so I can give it a spin."
Could this revamp the Australian automobile industry?
It is perhaps a little early to suggest that the release of electric vehicles into Australia could revamp the Australian automobile industry because relative numbers are miniscule compared to their traditional gasoline/petrol counterparts. That is not to say that the Australian economy has not benefited from the growing interest in electric vehicles, as we have seen an array of technology companies adding new developments to the mix on a regular basis. It may take some time before we see a move to the "mass market" for electric vehicles and as a consequence we are unlikely to see any major increase in automobile manufacturing in Australia in the short to medium term.
Looking to the future
As we touched on above, while automobile manufacturers may not be impacted heavily in the short to medium term by the introduction of new electric vehicles, we have seen a raft of new EV based technologies released into the marketplace by Australian operations. There is no doubt that this new and groundbreaking technology is capturing the hearts and minds of investors and while not expected to break into the mass market until 2017, the EV industry is certainly growing.
It will be interesting to see how supportive the Australian government is of the electric vehicle industry, bearing in mind it's environmentally friendly bias and taking into account the fact the government has had its fingers burnt handing out large subsidies to traditional automobile manufacturers.