Let’s put a stop to at least some of the fake news on the big issues that have the most serious impact on the lives of people like us. The rapidly diminishing group of persons of all ages, sexes and other who like real cars and actually think Australia is a pretty good place and what isn’t good about it could be fixed by having politicians like Andy Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. Much like the Sultan (Carma Sutra: The Auto Erotic Handbook and Oral Sadism and the Vegetable Personality) Andy is also a published author (How to Create a Future That’s More Star Trek than Terminator) and works to the kind of philosophic values that guide all of us here on the Weekend Australian Racing Team (Wart) and our twenty readers, one friend and my eldest son (who is only sucking up to get in the will).
In an interview last month on the communist media group, ABC Radio, in the Lagos of the South Pacific, Brisbane, Andy said: ‘The idea that Australians prize you for the talents you have and that everybody starts off fundamentally equal. That we’re a country that prizes the word ‘mate’ over the word ‘sir’. I think that’s under threat given the rise of inequality in Australia in recent decades, and the decline in community participation”.
So, let’s talk about Electric Vehicles without vomiting too much.
In most world markets middle market buyers have only shown only mild interest in EV’s. This year, EV’s (including hybrids) are at about 10 per cent world market share even with generous government tax credits. In Australia it’s about 2 per cent. EVs could make up at least 25 per cent of new sales by 2035 but even so, at the end of 2035 less than 15 per cent of cars on the road will be electric. This will eventually change quickly but we will have proper cars and EVs on the road together for a long time yet.
Even in 2050 when EVs are expected to be the majority of new sales, most vehicles on the road will still run-on petrol. That’s because older cars aren’t going to disappear. The average car on the road today is about 15 years old. In Australia it’s about 11 years old.
What will be upended is the auto business model. If you have shares in a traditional auto dealer or car maker, be really careful. We will be moving from complex combustion engines to relatively simple battery-operated computers on wheels. The model of making money first on the sale of the car, then from high priced finance, then from high priced service and even higher priced spare parts will not work as the switch from an ownership model to a ride-sharing service accelerates. And more car manufacturers will move to their own sales online or their own physical outlets or a fixed price agency. Jobs will disappear for car salespeople, garage mechanics oilfield, refinery and transportation workers.
There are more than a billion motor vehicles in the world, and over 99 percent of them are powered by gasoline, natural gas or diesel. Based on more EVs on the road, there will be a need to increase electricity generating power by incredible multiples - primarily to charge the batteries in EVs. EVs need renewable energy sources or the change will be pointless. This means more renewable energy sources – solar, nuclear, wind, politicians hot air, etc. And of course infrastructure upgrades to deliver the electricity to vehicle charging stations. And of course, all the battery stuff like lithium (which is also a good treatment for depression which we will all have as more EVs come onto our roads).
The big challenge for pollies like Andy will be getting EV makers to be truthful and transparent about the life cycle emissions and environmental footprints of all EV battery metals. EVs are not zero emissions. Tax and government revenue models will need to be updated. There is a risk of environmental hypocrisy. What if the automotive sector makes this shift to EVs, but the energy sector remains unchanged, if we continue to depend on fossil fuels to charge the newly produced EVs?
In a world exclusive report last week titled ‘EVs may soon threaten the security of the power grid’ our own James Jennings wrote that: ‘If thousands of EVs are being plugged in during peak evening periods, the effects could be disastrous, unless Australian households start using smart-charging devices’. He quotes Darren Miller, chief executive of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency saying: “If we all end up having EVs and charging them at exactly the same time, say 6pm to 9pm on weeknights, then no doubt the distribution system won‘t be able to cope with that. Extra investment will have to be made, and that will cost all of us on our electricity bill, too, ultimately”.
Talking of major races see you next Saturday at the racetrack by the garbage dump, Sydney Motorsport Park, when race coach to the stars, Phil Alexander and I will be trying to secure a top last position in the 77 lap Sydney 300. Nothing free to give away except sage advice like don’t go out with younger women, men or others.
Hope you were on Kayo/Foxtel or the big screen at the Kensi to see all the action at the all-bull Red Bull Ring last Sunday. Chuck Leclerc beat Mad Max and the Hamster. Highlights and lowlights: the Merc cars are super reliable and they are getting faster; croissant eater and F1 commentator, Lionel Froissart, has been suspended for calling Lance Stroll “the autistic” and Dan the Man says “I’m working my ass off’ and not leaving F1.