Taking the MPs for a Spin in the EV Part 2

A few months ago I took my state and federal Members of Parliament (MPs) for a spin in my EV when they visited the park across the road. I handed them a little 1 pager that described the benefits of EVs from their point of view.

In the submission I suggested that a rebate for EV conversions be introduced, similar to the $2000 rebate we currently have for LPG conversions. LPG is by-product of a fossil fuel production, which means it emits greenhouse gases and is non-renewable. We often forget what a buzzword like non-renewable means. It means that one day it will stop. Then it will be gone forever. Recycling a petrol car to an EV is a big improvement – you avoid the fossil fuel and greenhouse hit of manufacturing a new car and and EV can be powered from renewable energy. It costs less that a new medium size car to convert a car and install a PV solar system to power it.

Mark Butler read the submission and said he would show Peter Garrett, the Minister for Environment. Sure enough, a few weeks later I had a letter from Peter. He liked the idea of charging EVs from PV solar, and promised to send my submission onto Sen. Kim Carr, the minister responsible for the Automotive Industry. Then just yesterday, I received a letter from Sen Carr. He mentioned the governments various green car initiatives such as “A New Car Plan for a Greener Future”, Project Better Place, the Toyota Hybrid, and the MIEV. He declined to extend the LPG conversion rebate to EVs.

This is the first time I have spoken directly to government on anything and I have been pleasantly surprised. Thinking about it, I am quite surprised that a guy like me with a relatively obscure agenda can get a response from people at the top of our Government. Thanks Mark for taking the time to talk to your colleagues about this issue.

I feel this has at least planted the idea of (i) solar powered EVs (ii) a EV conversion rebate and (iii) EV conversions compared to new cars at a high level of government. As fuel prices and the green agenda rises the idea of an EV conversion rebate may look better and better.

Now I am thinking about next steps. Compared to the other government initiatives an EV conversion rebate addresses (i) the low end of the EV market (ii) builds local small business in an important new industry and (iii) gets more EVs on the road faster than a $60k MIEV in 2012 (or whenever) or Toyota hybrids.

The low end of the EV market is particularly interesting to me. With a little mass production we could get conversions down to $5k for 60 km/hr metro commuting type EVs. We can put 5-10 of these of the road for every MIEV or new Hybrid. People such as us and many others driving EV conversions have shown that such an EV can cover about 90% of our daily driving. It also puts green motoring within the reach of many more people that $50-$60k factory built EVs – and can do it today rather than when some foreign CEO’s business agenda decides we can have it. Most importantly – it would get us started down a path to kick our dependency on oil. A $2k rebate would kick-start this industry overnight.

4 thoughts on “Taking the MPs for a Spin in the EV Part 2”

  1. I think you should continue the dialog. Ask why an LPG, but not an EV conversion rebate. Find out how they’re thinking about it and address those issues. You’ve already started that here, but without knowing their thinking it’s hard to know what will be effective. Update your one-pager and go again.

  2. Well done David!

    Did the letter from Mark elaborate on why he declined to extend the LPG conversion rebate to EVs?

  3. So this seems like even without government help a valid business/non-profit idea. Make a partnership with a given car supplier to do the conversion of a given type of car? Even at $10,000 for a conversion and $20,000 for the original car you would be selling a product people would be interested in paying a premium for.

    If you went the non-profit route, you could take the money made on conversions to make the next conversions even cheaper.

    What is preventing this from happening? Lack of time? Lack of investment? Lack of someone driving it forward?

  4. Hans, yes I suspect it’s just one of those “too hard” things for some very busy guys rather than a structured response. More people asking for it might change that.

    Joel, Kim Carr just said “they note my request but the government has no plans to extend the LPG rebate to EVs”. However I do feel I have “planted” the idea.

    Tim, yes I think there is a good small business in low cost EV conversions today, even without a rebate. A rebate would just accelerate EV growth, much like PV solar panels. I can see several markets for EVs today (i) people who want a green car and (ii) people who want to save $ over petrol (iii) parents who don’t want their kids in 150kW Commodores – an EV limits their top speed AND range!

    What is requires is some people with sufficient motivation, business, and technical skills to make it happen. I am not personally inclined to start such a business, but would love to see them emerge. I have been writing Renew magazine articles and blog posts on this theme, and there are a few conversion business starting to emerge. I personally think low cost EVs are the key, but there are many strategies.

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