‘No question it could be done’: Tesla chief Elon Musk joins Australia’s EV debate

Tesla’s founder Elon Musk decided to involve himself in the Twitter backlash about electric car policy in Australia.

Musk said Labor’s plan for 50 per cent of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030 is actually behind the times. It’s a slap in the face to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s attack on the Labor Party’s policy.

Musk’s tweet comes after Mike Cannon-Brookes, billionaire co-founder of enterprise software company Atlassian, took to Twitter to condemn the Liberal government’s lack of support for electric vehicles.

Labor has said it is possible, without taxing large vehicles such as 4WDs and utes, to have 50 per cent of vehicles electric by 2030 and Musk agreed, saying it’s an easy task that can be achieved in less than the proposed 11 years. He referred to Norway’s success with electric vehicles. In the first two months of 2019, passenger vehicle sales in Norway hit a 50 per cent rate for EVs.

In the lead up to the election announcement on Thursday, the political fight over electric vehicles heated up. Members of the Coalition government have publicly attacked Labor’s electric vehicle plan, with the prime minister suggesting Labor was instead planning to “tax your ute”.

“You should be able to have your choice about the sort of vehicle you want to drive, that you want to get around in on the weekend, if you want to put the under-6’s soccer team in the back of your SUV,” Morrison said earlier this week.

The government’s political attacks played into Australia’s love of big vehicles. Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data shows Australians now buy more SUVs than any other kind of car, with SUVs and light commercial vehicles representing 67.5 per cent of the new car market.

Experts dismissed the government’s claims, suggesting instead that Labor’s target may go some way to making electric cars more affordable and improve vehicle emissions.

The “completely ridiculous” spat between political leaders over electric vehicles underscores the challenge for investors from Australia’s chaotic policy on energy and climate change, according to Fiona Reynolds, chief executive officer of Principles for Responsible Investment.

“This whole thing about ‘you won’t be able to drive your ute on the weekend’ rather than thinking about the economic benefits that could come from a new industry, seems very small-minded,” Reynolds, whose group lobbies on behalf of fund managers, told Bloomberg.

Australia is uniquely placed to benefit from the rise of electric vehicles, with Western Australia tipped to produce more than half the world’s lithium supply.

Lithium is a key ingredient in producing modern batteries used in electric vehicles.

Extracted from The Sydney Morning Herald