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Intelligence Briefs

Electric vehicles: can Australia's automotive sector keep pace with the world?

Industry Contributor

Nicole Taylor, Global CEO
C14 (Catorce)

9 September 2019 3min read

The big car manufacturers are pumping hundreds of billions into electric vehicle development. But there are doubts over when they will become mainstream, and whether the public actually wants EVs. That creates a new set of challenges for marketers (Forbes).


Key points:

  • Launch of electric cars as a global mainstream product – VW, Porsche etc.
  • A challenge as to whether mass-market demand exists today given cost and battery life barriers
  • Is electric the best environmentally friendly solution – concern over battery . 
  • Regardless, the industry has committed itself with some major manufacturers doubling down on their production and eliminating petrol/diesel models from their portfolios (with some countries banning them). 
  • China is also going large on electric and there is some speculation that they will overtake the European markets with a lower cost solution.

My Takeout

Is Australia ready for this? Can marketing and communications play a critical role in getting Australians on the electric car band wagon and quick? Because it looks like things are about to change fast!

I was meant to be at the Frankfurt Motor show this week, but visa delays have meant that I am still in Aus doing my learning from afar. One of the reasons that I was so excited about taking on this new global role was to get close to the automotive industry again. I am fascinated by the strategic challenges and pace of change that this industry is going through and the key role sustainability now plays in the choices that are being made.

Because of the lack of manufacturing of cars in Aus today, I’m interested in the other parts of the supply and value chain when it comes to implications for us. Pretty soon, it seems that we will be only getting electric vehicles (EVs) sent our way and we need to build the right infrastructure and other services to deal with it.  Currently .02 per cent of all cars on the road are EVs and the Government is talking about having 25-50 per cent of all cars on the road being EVs by 2030. It’s hard to imagine how we will make those numbers a reality, but with less petrol cars coming in, that will certainly make an impact.

So who is leading the way in Australia and showing some vision for this disruption outside of the car manufacturers themselves? I’ve read a bit about NRMA and Mirvac shopping centres building charging stations, and in fact I was in the Hunter last week and the hotel that I stayed at had two spots allocated for charging which surprised me…but, over a two day stay, I didn’t see any cars recharging - so it’s hardly big business yet.

But what role can other brands and businesses play in supporting this radical change that is inevitably coming? Who is making the batteries? How are we disposing of them? Can you buy the batteries in Woolies or Coles? Should Maccas give you a top up on the way through drive through? How and where do our electricity suppliers fit in? Have we got enough electricity on the grid? How does this affect our move to renewable energy? Should we move faster? How does this affect the homes that we build? The new garage design? What do we do with the old “servos”? Convert to green spaces?

This is major disruption for a country who is highly dependent on oil based fuel for our transport but it also represents an invitation for the game changers out there to build new products and services that ultimately help Australia move toward a more environmentally accountable nation.

Let’s go. What do you think?

Industry Contributor

Nicole Taylor, Global CEO
C14 (Catorce)

Nicole is the former Australian CEO at McCann World Group and prior to McCann was CEO of DDB Sydney. She leaves Australia next week to take up a global CEO position at C14 (Catorce) based in Europe. C14 is a start up owned by DDB/Omnicom, and was established 3 years ago to partner with Seat cars  (part of Volkswagen Group) as they embark on an ambitious growth strategy.

Nic has over twenty years’ experience working both agency and client side across a number of categories including QSR; Telecommunications; Financial Services; Automotive and FMCG.

Nic is a strategic and empathetic leader who is a true champion for creativity. She is married to her soul mate and has a young daughter.