A Tasmanian social enterprise has sold more electric vehicles in the state than Tesla through its bulk buy model and is now helping motorists in other jurisdictions access affordable second hand EVs
The Good Car Company introduced its used EV bulk buying model two and a half years ago to help make electric vehicles more affordable. Even with recent state-based incentives, such as the ACT’s stamp duty exemption, high upfront costs leave EVs out-of-reach for many.
Anthony Broese van Groenou, one of the organisation’s three founders, told The Fifth Estate the company is able to reduce costs by buying used cars from overseas in bulk on behalf of interested parties.
“We act as the aggregator to get the savings and pass them on.”
The first step is teaming up with a local council or community organisation to attract prospective EV owners though a series of local events. Broese van Groenou says this is where common EV myths are busted.
“We want to normalise the vehicles.”
While the cost of EVs remains the top barrier to EV adoption, Broese van Groenou says anxiety about shifting to new technology also holds people back. People feel much more comfortable once they’ve gone for a quick test run and spoken to an existing EV owner in their area.
He says range anxiety is still a common concern.
“Most people have this idea that Australians need to drive thousands of kilometres a day on the wide open plains but the reality is people only drive an average of 50 kms a day.”
Even the cheapest models can easily cover this distance, he says, and need only a couple of hours of charging between trips.
“It’s really about behaviour change – that’s why it’s so important for people get to experience driving an electric car and talking to owners.”
Broese van Groenou says many people are also pleasantly surprised to discover how cheap the vehicles are to maintain and run, saving the average Australian driver $1500 a year in fuel costs.
While the community ends up financing the bulk buys themselves, The Good Car Company’s team of eight are responsible for quality control. Battery health is a key concern, Broese van Groenou explains, as EV batteries fade over time. The company is able to offer replacements using second hand batteries from donor vehicles.
A community fund is also established as part of the bulk buys, which is invested into local projects that will drive action on climate change. An example might be installing solar panels for a fast charging station.
The social enterprise is also introducing more cars to the market by testing vehicles to ensure they meet Australia’s safety and design standards.
The community bulk buys started in the co-founders home town of Hobart – where it was very popular – and is now expanding to other parts of the country. The organisation recently ran a successful bulk buy campaign in Canberra where more than 50 vehicles were sold and was in the middle of Geelong campaign when Covid restrictions paused the program.
“We’re aiming to expand the team and our capabilities to work with communities all over Australia,” Broese van Groenou said.
It’s still not that cheap
While The Good Car Company’s model brings down costs for consumers, its cheapest vehicle (Nissan Leaf AZEO with a battery range of 100km) is still $17,000.
“That’s still a fair chunk of change.”
In the future, Broese van Groenou would like to be able to offer in-house finance options. EVs low operating costs open the door to leasing and personal finance models that bring upfront costs in line with conventional vehicles.
Australia is falling behind the low carbon transport transition
While models such as used EV bulk buys are helping drive EV uptake, Broese van Groenou worries about what will happen if Australia continues to lag behind the rest of the world on decarbonising transport.
“Every developed economy in the world is moving to electric vehicles and we are not – we will be the laggards and will become the dumping ground for the diesel, petrol and hybrid vehicles.
“We could end up with all these cheap luxury petrol cars that aren’t worth anything elsewhere. It’s putting us further behind the eight ball. We need action now.”
The federal government released an electric vehicle plan earlier this year that focused on transitioning fleets first in the hope that affordable second hand cars will trickle into the private consumer market.
A recent report by the Grattan Institute recommended exemptions from from stamp duty, import duty and luxury car tax to accelerate uptake of EVs and other zero emissions vehicles, with removing scrap duty expected to stamp duty to cut the cost of new electric vehicles in Australia by up to 6.5 per cent.
The think tank also recommended phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.