When opposition leader Bill Shorten announced an ambitious target to replace petrol and diesel cars with electric within the decade, a new political battleground was set.
Labor says it wants at least half of all new cars sold to be electric by 2030 and also plans to bring in a carbon emission target for new cars.
That pledge saw the Liberal Party come out swinging Tuesday, with frontbencher Michaelia Cash accusing its rival of trying to steal our “tradies’ utes.”
“We are going to stand by our tradies and we are going to save their utes, because we understand choice and that is what Bill Shorten is taking away from our tradies,” she told media.
Out and about in Central Coast NSW talking with tradies this morning – Labor need to explain to Australia’s tradies why they want to ban their favourite utes and force them to pay more #saveourtradiesutes
— Michaelia Cash (@SenatorCash) April 8, 2019
The plans have also raised concerns by car lovers about whether Australians will be able to continue buying the cars they prefer if the policy is enforced.
But according to Tim Washington, founder of electric vehicle charging company Jet Charge, Australia may not have much of a choice in the matter.
Car manufacturers are essentially at the whim of the world’s three biggest economies, the European Union, China and the United States, whose governments have all enforced strict targets in electric car manufacturing.
Washington told Your Money chief business reporter Leo Shanahan he believes Australia will hit Labor’s target because it’s in line with the rest of the world.
“[Car manufacturers] have to hit strong government regulations and targets, so they will only be producing electric vehicles from a certain date onward, they’re all really focused on that,” he said.
Election rhetoric aside, governments of both stripes have backed the rise of electric vehicles in Australia.
Jet Charge has received $6 million in funding from the federal government to build more charging stations across Australia.
The company has just opened its second charging site and plans to open 22 more sites by the end of 2019.
Will cars be more expensive?
The Coalition government is arguing that Labor’s policy will add thousands to the cost of our vehicles.
Washington admitted that electric vehicles may be more expensive on average in the beginning, but thinks those prices will come down much sooner than 2030.
“We expect to see price parity in the dealership as early as 2024, so that means when you walk into a dealership in 2024, you’ll pay the same for an electric car as you would a diesel or petrol vehicle. But it’s just much cheaper to charge and maintain,” said Washington.
He said that once battery prices come down as production increases, electric vehicles will actually be much cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles.
“Given that electric cars are only going to be cheaper and better for the environment than their diesel and petrol counterparts I wouldn’t be surprised at the acceleration of that uptake.”
As for Australia’s beloved tradies, Washington says he expects electric utes to be on the market within the next few years.
Watch the interview above for more.
Editor’s note: The segment that features in the above video was broadcast on 9 April 2019.