A great opportunity to show the potential of e-mobility to boost Australia’s energy security was nearly canceled on Friday, when Coalition Deputy Transport Minister Scott Buchholz was barred by the Prime Minister’s Office from attend, said a group that aims to promote electric vehicle manufacturing in Australia. Monday.
The place in the booth alongside Janus chief executive Lex Forsyth will now be taken by independent South Australian senator Rex Patrick, who says Buchholoz’s withdrawal is another example of the Prime Minister’s “absolutely Luddite attitude.” towards electric vehicles.
EMMA, which stands for Electric Mobility Manufacturers Australia, says it secured Buchholz’s involvement in a plan to board an electric Freightliner Coronado converted by Janus Electric on Tuesday morning, but says the deputy minister later backed out, citing restrictions of the budget week.
EMMA’s visit to Parliament on Tuesday morning aims to highlight the fact that a transition to an electric vehicle can play an important role in many industries. This includes long-haul transport led by Janus Electric – which plans to use battery-swap technology to make long-haul travel by battery-powered prime movers as easy as refueling.
EMMA spokesman Greg McGarvie said the group was “perplexed” by what he sees as a ban by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Scott Buchholz was excited about the prospect of driving Australia’s first Janus Electric Prime Mover,” said McGarvie. “This heavy electric vehicle is an outstanding example of Australian ingenuity.”
Janus has teamed up with logistics company Qube and mining giant Oz Minerals to test its electric motor with battery swap plans along some of Australia’s toughest roads.
It also plans to install battery swap stations from Sydney to Brisbane and says the the cost of powering long-distance transport using battery electric motors is much lower than that of a diesel truck.
Senator Patrick tells The Driven he is also excited about the prospect of taking a ride in the Janus Engine on Tuesday morning.
“I’m particularly interested in the concept of a prime mover,” says Patrick, “particularly noting that the Prime Minister told me that EVs wouldn’t tow a caravan.”
“But it’s really the future and it’s private industry showing how far ahead they are of government – that’s a credit and also a shame.”
With fuel prices skyrocketing, Patrick has campaigned for a temporary reduction in fuel excise duties to ease fiscal pressures on families as the Ukraine crisis pushes the price of oil up and over. above $100 a barrel.
Although this plan has drawn some criticism – experts say that cutting excise duties on fuel could actually undermine a long-term plan to decarbonise Australia’s transport sector – Patrick says he also supports the role that electric mobility must play and that the Coalition should do more.
“One of the difficulties with the government’s lack of commitment to electric vehicles is that if it were to make a decision not to sell ICE vehicles after 2030, we would find that building codes would change,” he says.
McGarvie, whose company ACE-EV has long-standing plans to build electric cars, utility vehicles and vans in Australia, says ‘electric vehicle operating costs, on the other hand, are up to 80 per cent lower expensive $10 a fortnight compared to $90 with fuel for a car. In trucking, it’s about $180 for a 600 km trip.
A national federal electric vehicle strategy was promised for mid-2020 and has yet to materialize. Instead, a “future fuels strategy” in which electric vehicles were not mentioned was published by the office of Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor in 2021.
With a federal budget set to be released this week and a national election looming in May, Patrick doubts there will be any new announcements to support a transition to electric vehicles. “If we see anything in the budget, it will be ad hoc,” he says.
The Janus initiator is due to go to parliament on Tuesday morning.
Bridie Schmidt is Associate Editor for The conduitsister site of Renew the economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018 and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emission transport must play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is a co-organizer of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and offers it for rent on evee.com.au.