Those of you who read yesterday's Australian Financial Review would have read the article in which Australia's four local car manufacturers, Holden, Ford, Mitsubishi and Toyota were bleating that they could not possibly begin pursuing green vehicle initiatives without substantial Australian Government handouts (anywhere from $500million to $2 billion, depending on who you speak to).
It's an especially interesting comment from Toyota who's parent company is already producing the Prius hybrid car in the US and China and is struggling to supply demand for the Prius here.
It would be easy now to slide into cynicism and despair over the Australian manufacturers reliance on government handouts and import tarifs to survive, while pondering their lack of ability to compete and innovate in the global economy.
The closest any of these four companies have come to innovation is Holden's
two-door Commodore coupe Monaro. It's a nice car but not particularly innovative.
In this environment, it was genuinely heartening to read in the latest ReNew Magazine that there is a manufacturer in Australia building a mass-produced electric vehicle.
Armidale (NSW) based engineering firm Energetique have commenced the Energetique EV project. With funding sourced from Switzerland, USA, China, Korea, Germany, UK, Italy, Australia and Norway they are expecting the first prototype to roll off the shop floor early this year.
The first production run is expected to be about 200,000 two-door commuters with a later run of both a four door commuter and a commercial vehicle.
For the gear-heads, the Energtique EV is expected to have a range of 300km per charge, a top speed of 130km/h, will do 0-100 in about 10 seconds and weigh under 1200kg. ie: it will be a great commuter vehicle.
The Energtique EV will also feature a battery pack of liquid cooled lithium ion, regenerative breaking and a synchronous induction motor.
It's great to see Australians innovating where the larger competitors have failed to deliver. Perhaps Holden, Ford, Mitsubishi and Toyota could learn some lessons here.
I'm looking forward to seeing these on the road in the not too distant future :)