Australia’s first ever dual-cab electric ute is finally here – but not everyone’s impressed by the environmentally friendly vehicle.
Over the weekend, electricity giant Transgrid launched the network’s electric ute trial alongside Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen at Transgrid’s Wallgrove depot in western Sydney.
The trial involves the 2023 LDV eT60 electric ute, which will be used for in-depth field testing.
Transgrid CEO Brett Redman was full of praise for the trial, explaining it was part of the company’s commitment to reach net zero by 2040, including “eliminating all emissions from our passenger and commercial fleet by 2030”.
“I’m excited to see our first electric ute hit the road, leading the way for other energy and infrastructure firms by demonstrating it’s possible to transition to a greener fleet and reduce our impact on the environment,” he said.
Mr Bowen also spruiked the new vehicle on social media, sharing photos and videos of the new “weapon”.
However, the vehicle has also attracted plenty of critics, with 2GB’s Ben Fordham and Drive.com.au’s managing editor Trent Nikolic hitting out at its eye-watering $90,000 price tag, as well as the fact that it is made in China.
They pointed out that the NSW Government would struggle to roll out 30,000 new electric vehicle charging stations over the next three years as promised, and claimed the Federal Government’s target of 89 per cent of new car sales by 2030 being electric vehicles was unrealistic.
Fordham also questioned why people would pay more than $90,000, when the top two best-selling vehicles in the country, the Toyota HiLux and the Ford Ranger, would only set you back around $50,000.
Mr Nikolic said while the price of the LDV was “ridiculous”, he believed the biggest issue was its capability.
“LDV quotes the range of that vehicle as 330km. Now if that battery pack was in a car it’d be about 500km, so it’s already reduced, because the ute weighs 3-tonnes, then if you go anywhere near its tow rating or load capacity you halve it, so there’ll be tradies driving to sites listening to you right now who are thinking, ‘What good is a dual cab going to be for me today if I get 150km out of it?’” he said.
The pair also took aim at the fact the car was produced in China.
“Whenever I say to electric vehicle evangelists, ‘What about the stuff we’re digging out of the ground to make the battery packs,’ because things like lithium and cobalt come out of the ground, their first refrain is, ‘Oh yeah lithium is common, it’s everywhere,’ and the second one is, ‘We’ve got a lot of it in Australia.’
“So my response to that is why aren’t we building battery packs here?” Mr Nikolic said.
“It’s one thing that the vehicle is built in China, but just about every component of the vehicle will be built in China if we don’t start building stuff here.”
Mr Nikolic added that the cheapest electric vehicle on the market in Australia today was just over $50,000, which was already tens of thousands of dollars more expensive than other “decent” non-electric cars.
They both stressed that while electric vehicles in general were “fantastic” for city dwellers who only drove short distances, they weren’t necessarily the best option for everyone, including those from rural areas.
Meanwhile, the new trial comes just months after deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley infamously took aim at EV utes.
“We know we’re not going to have electric vehicles tomorrow,” Ms Ley told Sky News last August.
“And no one in the world is making an electric ute, by the way, and even if they were it would be unaffordable.”
Her comments came after former PM Scott Morrison bizarrely claimed electric vehicles would
“end the weekend”.
“It’s not going to tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot with your family,” he said at the time.