EV EXPO A WATERSHED MOMENT IN AUTO INDUSTRY EVOLUTION

Australia got a peek into the future on November 10, when the EV Expo opened its doors to the public in Brisbane.

Organised by the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) and held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Expo attracted more than 5000 visitors to a showcase of electric vehicle (EV), battery and charging technology.

Included amongst the featured displays were electric scooters, bicycles, vans, utility vehicles, even a waste compactor truck. The stars of the show were, however, the cars, and while the high-end, high-performance Tesla Model S and Jaguar I-Pace garnered plenty of interest from the crowd, a solid argument could be made that the most popular vehicles on display were the ‘affordable’ cars from Hyundai and Nissan.

The Hyundai Ioniq, which has an 88Kw/295Kw electric motor, a range of 280km and comes with a smorgasbord of high-tech and safety goodies, hasgone on sales at a mid-$40,000 price range.
The company’s electric Kona SUV, which has a 150Kw/395Nm electric motor, and a range of 482km, will follow the Ioniq into the local market early in 2019 with a price speculated to be
in the mid-$50,000 range.

That’s still a lot of money, of course, but it’s not mad money, and along with other EVs that are either already on sale here or will be soon – such as the new Nissan Leaf (to go on sale here next year) and the Renault Zoe (available now) – herald the start of an influx of relatively affordable EVs to our shores.

The EV Expo was not just about displaying EVs and associated technology to the public. On the Friday, the AEVA held a conference at which a number of speakers, from businesses and institutions involved in the EV sector, gave presentations.

Included amongst the presenters were representatives from ACE-EV Group, which is preparing to manufacture a range of electric cars and light commercial vehicles; Tritium, a leading battery charging company; and Sea Electric, developers of electric trucks and vans.

The CSIRO, Queensland government and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) were also represented, as was the MTA Institute, with General Manager Paul Kulpa delivering a presentation not only on the skill sets and work requirements that will be needed within the automotive industry as EVs become more popular, but on the training options that are currently available, or are in development, by the Institute.

“We know the EV tsunami is coming and it was interesting to hear from all facets of industry – from EV manufacturers to battery suppliers, retailers and academics – about what infrastructure will be necessary to support these vehicles, what their impact on the electrical grid may be and what government needs to do to assist industry,” said Mr Kulpa.

“My presentation was about the current and future workforce implications on the automotive retail, service and repair sector and what will be required to upskill the workforce to service these vehicles.

“It was a very informative event and while I sometimes feel that there are more questions than answers, one thing we know for certain is EVs are coming.”

For Graeme Manietta, Chairman of the Queensland branch of the AEVA that hosted the Expo, the event could not have been a greater success and heralds a landmark moment for the EV sector in Australia.

“We were overwhelmed by the public response,” he said. “We wanted to count people as they entered the hall, but when we opened the doors it was like the Boxing Day sales at Myers! By about 2pm we stopped trying to count, but by then we’d had more than 5000 people come through.

“It was a busy day for the staff manning the displays too,” Graeme added. “They said they were unable to catch a breath until about 3:30pm and were quite stunned at the number of people who came and the interest in EVs.”

It wasn’t just the vehicles that had the public intrigued. On the Saturday, a 100-seat theatrette had been set up for guest speakers to deliver presentations and those, said Graeme, proved to be almost as popular as the cars.

“What stood out for me was how busy the theatrette was – it was standing room only for much of the day,” he said. “Those presentations were about educating the public on the vehicles, about charging, about range and on the health benefits of EVs, and people were clearly very interested in those subjects.

“This is a watershed moment for the EV sector and for the Expo,” he added. “Next year, we expect to have double the number of EV models – including ones from BMW, VW and others that are coming to market soon – and we are expecting to double the size of the show. It’s exciting to see that EVs have entered the mainstream now.”

Source: Motor Trader E-Magazine (December 2018)

13 Dec 2018