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BMW ready to go electric, but says politicians are dragging the power cord

BMW is “excited” about the idea of selling more EVs in Australia.
Stephen Corby
Contributing Journalist

3 May 2019 • 3 min read

Partisan politicking around increasing the number of EVs on Australian roads has done nothing to change consumer attitudes thus far, and nor will it, until politicians set out an actual road map for action, according to Vikram Pawah, the CEO of BMW Group Australia.

In an incredible turn of events, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott - the man at least partly responsible for the death of local car manufacturing - suggested this week that we might need to “re-create” the local industry to supply electric vehicles to a booming market.

And during the election campaign, Labor leader Bill Shorten has set out a goal of EVs making up 50 per cent of all new cars sold by 2030, and half of all government-fleet sales by 2025.

For its part, BMW is “excited” about the idea of selling more EVs in Australia - as it is in other countries - but Vikram Pawah points out that such an ambitious goal is going to require a lot more than good intentions and rhetoric.

“It’s not something that will happen without encouraging that change,” he says.

“The government needs to create the stimulus, to offer the incentives to make it happen. What we’re looking forward to is a government providing the road map as to how we’re going to get there, because we’ve not seen that detail yet.”

Pawah, who says BMW is particularly proud that it was a ground-breaker in this area with cars like the BMW i3, says whether Australia can reach a 50 per cent EV target depends on several factors, including the availability of those vehicles, the ability of car companies to provide them in the necessary numbers and the speed at which the charging infrastructure can be set up.

“And then there’s the question of whether the customer culture change is going to happen, which is more about awareness, about education, it’s about ‘why do I make the shift?’

“It has to be a a collaborative job, between the brands, the industry and the government,” he adds.

Sadly, Pawah says, the recent coverage of the EV issue hasn’t led to a surge, or even a wobble, in customer demand, and yet he is still determined to prepare the way for the Australian market, by offering at least in a plug-in electric model in every BMW segment by the end of the year.

“Our electric portfolio will increase, across plug-ins and pure battery electric vehicles, so if the government puts a road map behind its ambitions to go electric, we will have the products,” he insists.

“In terms of change thus far, I still can’t see it on my showroom floors. Have I seen more customers come in talking about electric? No, but I hope that does happen.

“We’re going to try to educate customers and encourage them to try the new technology.”

For Pawah that means, in the short term at least, lots of PHEV offerings, because he believes that’s the necessary stepping stone between petrol power and full EVs.

“I think we need to get people to try the plug-in hybrid vehicles, to get through the range anxiety and through the habit of charging,” he says.

“That’s why we’re making them all available by the end of this year.”

Are you warming up to the thought of an electric vehicle? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

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