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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Australia plugs in to electric vehicle charge

A new roadmap for the future of the Australian automotive industry predicts the country could become a global player in EV development.

Automotive Australia 2020 - A Technological Roadmap - recommends 32 measures designed to secure the future of an industry that employs more than 50,000 people and contributes more than $3billion annually in exports.

They include a scheme to tap into the growing global electric vehicle (EV) market as leading car makers rush to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Among the priorities are development for both domestic and export markets of supercapacitors (an in-car energy storage unit), as well as electronics modules, more efficient and lightweight batteries, electric motors, battery packs and a modular platform (underpinning) to spin off numerous EVs.

The plan was jointly sponsored by the Federal and Victorian state governments and developed by a working group comprising 160 organisations including local manufacturers Ford, Holden and Toyota, parts manufacturers, leading universities and federal and state government departments.

The report says Australia's automotive industry needs to be recognised internationally for its innovation to attract global companies and their investors.

''The industry must be bigger, more productive and provide more jobs in the manufacturing and supply sectors. This can be achieved through leveraging existing strengths and building new capabilities,'' it says.

Federal Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister Kim Carr says the plan acknowledges the importance of retaining and strengthening existing capabilities while pursuing new technology.

''Our aim must be to build competitive advantage wherever we can, but not squander the advantages we already have,'' he says.

Victorian Industry and Trade Minister Jacinta Allan says the Automotive Industry and Innovation Council will consider the plan and advise both levels of government on the next steps to its implementation.

''Australia has a proud history in automotive manfacturing and it is important the industry continues to modernise and adapt to meet today's challenges,'' she says.

The roadmap plan also sets out some expected industry trends for the next decade. These include expected consolidation and restructuring within local automotive industry firms, increasing adoption and acceptance of EV technology and other alternative fuels; and greater competition from low-cost countries such as Brazil, India, Thailand and Russia.

Beyond 2020, the roadmap predicts a greater economic focus on energy storage and distributed energy generation, plus the development of a zero-emission and fatality-free transport system via intelligent roads and vehicles.

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