Industry News

Will tradies switch to electric utes?

TradieSpec CEO, Tim Cullen, shares his insight into the impact of new vehicle efficiency standards on the commercial trade vehicle industry.

Will tradies ever switch to electric utes?

TradieSpec CEO Tim Cullen, said its worth investigating as payload-battery power remains an issue for utes.

In a move to address climate change and enhance vehicle efficiency earlier this year, the Australian government signalled the introduction of a New Vehicle Efficiency Standard (NVES).

These standards, which are still under consultation, aim to align Australia with global efforts to reduce emissions and promote cleaner transportation options.

Australia and Russia are among the only advanced global economies not to have a fuel efficiency standard for road cars, which is believed to be contributing to less-fuel-efficient vehicles on Australian roads, higher fuel expenses per vehicle and the emission of significant greenhouse gasses.

Those in the trade vehicle industry, including Tim Cullen, are speaking out on what impact the NVES will have on Australia’s over one million tradies.

“At the moment, l believe the industry is looking for clarity on what the standards will look like, and more importantly, what it will mean for their trade fleets and future business operations,” said Cullen.

There have also been calls from leading industry bodies, including the Housing Industry Association (HIA), for the standards to exclude utes, vans, and other light commercial vehicles to ensure tradies don’t face significant premiums when upgrading their vehicles.

It is thought that the eventual NVES will outline a higher CO2 target for heavier vehicles, recognising that some consumers, such as small businesses and tradespeople, legitimately need a bigger car for their work.

As to what exactly is lacking in EV models, Tim believes this comes down to EV batteries.

“Electrical engineering of the battery for a commercial vehicle is yet to reach a level that has mass market production potential, outside of the family 4×4 ute. The battery engineering has not yet made enough ground to solve the distance and pay-load issue that will prevent real utility for a tradie. But l think it soon will,” Cullen said.

As to whether electric utes ever really dominate for Australian tradies, Tim believes that while a fully electric EV shift is some time away, hybrid vehicles set to hit the market over the next 12 months may give tradies the best of both worlds.

“We are seeing are brands working overtime to push these EV models into the market given the impending NVES. This is the appetite tester needed to see how Aussie tradies will really respond to electric commercial vehicles. When the manufacturers are ready, TradieSpec will be ready to make the transition,” Cullen said.

Ford has locked in 2025 for the arrival of a plug-in hybrid version of the Ranger – Australia’s bestselling vehicle in 2023. Toyota is also working on an electric ute, with its electric HiLux concept debuted last year.

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