The end of electric cars in Australia?
A story in the Sydney Morning Herald by Peter Hawkins sounds like the Federal Government has slammed shut the lid on the coffin containing the remains of the electric car industry in Australia.
Federal minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr, is quoted as saying that the government isn’t interested in running programs that support any one particular form of technology.
So instead, it will pump $1.3billion over the next 10 years to help manufacturers build cleaner cars using either standard petrol, diesel or hybrid petrol-electric propulsion.
As with any technology, it is the initial years that require the most money as costs of development and commercialisation mount up. So the fact that the government would rather go with the “status quo” suggests it’s more interested in getting a decent return on its cash than investing too much into something that may not deliver.
As Peter Hawkins states, the major cost in electric cars are the batteries – Lithium-ion batteries, the same technology as used in computer notebooks, cost a fortune when you size them up for running an electric engine. Add in the growing cost of electricity and the running costs of electric propulsion may not be as good as they once were.
Until the cost of storing energy can be lowered significantly, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any electric car become a popular option. Solar-powered cars might be a fun experiment for universities to try and maximise efficiencies of solar cells, minimise drag coefficients (as well as a quick way for the driver to lose weight), but I certainly wouldn’t hold your breath on seeing electric cars filling up at a powerpoint near you any time soon.
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