Queensland-based EV charging station company Tritium has unveiled its global HQ and new manufacturing facility in Brisbane, which will see a seven-fold increase in capacity – but which may just a fraction of total production within a decade.
The new facility lifts the manufacturing capability of Tritium – founded by a group of University of Queensland students just over a decade ago – from around 60 a month to 6,000 a year, in turn boosting its manufacturing jobs from 30 to 90.
CEO David Finn, however, says it’s just the start of the EV industry. He reckons the EV charging sector will be worth $100 billion and is determined that Tritium gets its fair share – it’s already got 20-25 per cent of the 50kW public charging network in Europe and the US.
Unfortunately, any further increase in manufacturing is likely to take place closer to the target markets.
“This facility is extremtly important to us,” Finn told RenewEconomy. It has allowed us to fine tune our production process, and make sure we are hitting the quality we want. But within 5 years this will be small output in production capacity, and we will need to be closer to our core markets.”
Tritium has already gained a strong foothold in Australia, but its home country lags others because of the lack of incentives and policies. While countries like France, England, China and India are looking to ban the sales of petrol and diesel vehicles, Australia still hasn’t even got a basic emission standard.
And while the world’s biggest car manufacturers are switching to EV-only production lines – GM and Ford are the latest to flag the shift – the last of Australia’s car manufacturing capability is closing down.
The Queensland government on Wednesday outlined its EV-strategy, “The Future is Electric: Queensland’s Electric Vehicle Strategy” – although it was more of a vision document than a list of things to do.
Still, at least the state government has a vision. It is already installing an “electric superhighway”, has offered discounts on stamp duty and registration, and is looking to transition the government fleet to EVs and install charging infrastructure at its buildings.
It notes that the fuel bill in Queensland alone was $5.6 billion, and supply was entirely dependent on imported fuel.
It now wants a national “discussion” on moving forward, particularly as it relates to Fuel efficiency (CO2) standards, fleet purchasing policies, information and education campaigns and charging infrastructure.
“Queensland alone cannot reduce the global price of EVs, however, the state can, in collaboration with the Federal and other state governments, take actions that improve EV pricing in Australia,” it says.
“EV pricing in Australia is negatively impacted by low volume of sales, limited public charging infrastructure and a limited range of EV models available on the market .
“The Queensland Government will seek a national discussion on EVs, and work with the Australian and other state governments to encourage national actions to deliver a faster transition to EVs.
Behyad Jafari, from the Electric Vehicle Council, says Australia remains a laggard in the world’s electric vehicle market, with only 0.1 per cent of new vehicle sales.
“Today, Queensland has lit the way forward for the nation. The benefit of this leadership to Queensland businesses, households, and the environment will be significant in the years ahead.
“The benefits of electric vehicles are so clear that all that is needed is a little support from government to dislodge the boulder from the top of the mountain.
“Our research shows the majority of Australians would be willing to purchase an electric vehicle, but hesitate because they don’t know if the technology is supported by government and infrastructure.
“This plan removes that obstacle by sending an unambiguous message to the community and industry: Queensland supports the transition to electric vehicles. We implore the other states and the federal government to follow Queensland’s outstanding lead.”
Finn says Tritium is ready to move into a range of niches – including the fast-charging and public network facilities, to installations for fleet managers, commercial centres, businesses, and homes.
Finn sees the tipping point coming in 2020, by which time most major car manufacturers will have several lines of EV models that should be affordable.
“It’s going to be a big transition and it will happen in the next 10-15 years,” he said.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.