Electric Vehicles Council CEO responds to the current state of Australia’s EV industry
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In recent days, Stockhead reported on two questions in the electric vehicle (EV) industry.
First, if the government could help Australia catch up with the rest of the world. And second, could Tesla’s cash flow problems and the investments by larger companies mean the latter will lead the revolution.
Electric Vehicles Council CEO Behyad Jafari spoke with Stockhead earlier this week on these questions.
It is evident EVs are in the government’s “after thought” basket for now. Even if it is a priority there is no clear consensus on what they should do — if indeed anything.
Jafari argued the government had a role considering the rise of EVs was a “large-scale transition”.
“There’s a natural role for the government to play, a co-ordinating role whether at a basic level of ensuring all market players have access to information, needing to know where there’s capacity,” he said.
“There needs to be a convergence in policy. There are no longer just energy and transport products – they [EVs] are both and need to be treated as such.
“For the next few years the shape depends on government policy and government actions. A lot of that is because of the price premium and in forward years it will come about production capacity and scale of the vehicles.”
It goes without saying that if EVs were 60 per cent of automobiles, we could say the revolution has happened. Bloomberg has predicted this will occur by 2040.
Even in the nearer future, by 2023, they will only be 4 per cent. While this would be an improvement from the current 0.2 per cent, it would still appear to be happening slowly.
Stockhead put these figures to Jafari. He responded: “We’re more interested in proposed pathways than natural economic forecasts. Our interest is more in increasing the opportunities to land them in Australia.”
He did concede Australia was lagging behind, noting “we are 10 times behind the global average”.
Jafari also reminded Stockhead the rise of EVs was not just about the cars themselves. He said it included, “everything associated with the vehicle itself, [such as] subscription services and charging infrastructure”.
“A lot of those [players] will be new companies,” he explained.
“They may be bought out by larger players but we are already seeing providers doing things, whether it be charging networks and different opportunities.
“And it just speaks to a broader trend occurring in the space towards future mobility of which electric vehicles is a part.”
While we lack EV companies like Tesla, we have no shortage of miners digging for battery metals.
Everyone thinks of lithium, but Jafari listed off copper, cobalt, nickel and graphite as hot on battery manufacturers’ demands. He also mentioned rare earths — specifically dysprosium.
One company mining this heavy rare earth is Western Australian miner Northern Minerals (ASX: NTU). Dysprosium is a fundamental ingredient in the magnets used in EVs.
While China holds a virtual monopoly on this market, the trade war (as well as any success by Northern Minerals), could threaten this.
“There is an opportunity and we have [the] advantage of having those rocks in the ground,” Jafari said.