EV manufacturers call for action to aid uptake

SEA Electric and ACE-EV put case for aid and compliance flexibility

EV manufacturers call for action to aid uptake
The ACE Cargo van


Australian electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers SEA Electric and ACE-EV have called for a range to reforms to remove impediments to uptake of commercial EVs.

The reform options were contained in a recent submission to the Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles, formed to inquire into the use and manufacture of electric vehicles in Australia.

"As an active and successful Australian business in the electric commercial vehicle industry, it has been frustrating to see the level of activity globally, yet the limited activity domestically in respect to supporting this sector," SEA Electric MD Tony Fairweather tells the committee.

"There is a narrowing window of opportunity for Australia to position well (and benefit from) this rapidly evolving revolution."

 Read about Isuzu's electric truck plans here

SEA tackles three main EV issues: cost implications, legislated deterrents and preferential access.

It argues that though the total cost of ownership (TCO) attractions are being recognised in the market, seven financial points of assistance would aid uptake:

  • zero stamp duty for a period
  • zero registration for a period
  • an early adopter grant, as per the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) program in New Zealand
  • a percentage of purchase value as a rebate for a period
  • facilitating support from insurance and finance companies for preferential programs for electric commercial vehicles
  • facilitating support from energy providers for fixed price, off-peak, per-unit charging costs – as is currently offered for passenger cars by AGL. E.g. $5 per day fixed charging for electric commercial vehicles
  • a media campaign educating consumers and companies on the facts surrounding EV’s, including TCO, range and charging myths.

Regarding road rules for weight, the manufacturer advises an allowance for the two years or so that unladed commercial EVs will be heavier than diesel equivalents.

These include:

  • increasing the allowable GVM for passenger car licenced professional truck drivers from 4.5tonne GVM to 5.5t gross vehicle mass (GVM). Thus, compensating for the reduction in payload of 200kg due to batteries, and providing a further 800kg in payload incentive for productivity improvement. "Many states allow trailer towing to much greater weights than an additional 1000kg GVM, hence eliminating the ability to tow and having strong driver induction and training programs from fleet operators, could compensate for any concerns associated with carrying an addition 1000kg of mass at any time. This would drive uptake in all home delivery applications," SEA argues
  • increasing the allowable GVM for 6x2 and 6x4 rigid trucks to the manufacturers rating or a maximum of 26t GVM for commercial EV’s. "Australian road regulations restrict these vehicles to 22.5t and 23.5t GVM respectively in most states, yet the vehicles are built to (and operate at) their manufacturer’s rating in most countries in which they operate," SEA says. "This would also provide a substantial productivity gain for rubbish collection and concrete distribution companies."
  • introducing suitable EV standards in the Vehicle Standard Bulletin 6 from National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), to better reflect EV Gradeability and Startability requirements. "The VSB6 only considers diesel product at present and requires Gradeability at 23 per cent and Startability at 13 per cent," SEA notes. "This is to accommodate off-road uses for diesel products. As commercial EV’s are designed for urban applications, and urban roads have design limitations of less than 12 per cent, it would be recommended that a Gradeability of 14 per cent and Startability of 10 per cent is included for commercial EV’s, to allow optimised payloads for metropolitan operations.

On access, SEA pitches for preferential access to inner city precincts and delivery parking should be provided for EV delivery vehicles, preferential road lanes and a period of subsidised tolls on toll roads.


Another manufacturer with a small commercial EV in its stable and ideas similar to SEA’s is Queensland firm ACE-EV Group.

The purveyor of the $40,000 all-electric ACE Cargo van —said to have a 500kg payload and a 350km range —and Yewt ute also wants rebates and tax credits sales tax exemptions, special lane access and vehicle registration fees waived or reduced for EV drivers but adds government fleet mandates to the mix.

On the policy front, it calls on governments to:

  • put together an EV policy working group with a three month report-back, draw on existing policies, regulatory frameworks from countries well ahead of Australia, such as China, Singapore, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, France, India and US. The working group should be structured to act on matters that address carbon reduction, community uptake, building codes, training, mining and value adding with refining and manufacturing
  • focus on policy that improves Australia’s transport and energy security with EV
  • keep the focus simple with key pillars that ensure EV uptake in Australia provides benefits through jobs growth, research based commercialisation, encourages new and existing supply chains and supports export opportunities.

Inquiry submissions, which can be found here, have closed and the committee is due to report on October 17.


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