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Call on startups to retrofit Australia’s EVs

1 June 2024

The second annual Supercharge Australia Innovation Challenge, “Retrofit Nation”, launched on 16 May 2024 in Sydney during the Climate Action Week. The Challenge is calling on startups to rapidly convert half the Australian vehicle fleet to electric vehicles (EVs), which is over 10 million vehicles.

One of the immediately viable opportunities lies in retrofitting existing heavy vehicles with lithium batteries to support the move to an electric vehicle fleet. In 2022 the transport sector contributed to 19% of Australia’s emissions. Trucks, buses and light commercial vehicles account for about 40% of the total transport figure and the industry comprises a relatively small group of decision makers that can accelerate change.

A recent report from Beyond Zero Emissions shows that battery technologies are emerging as one of the most promising sectors for Australia’s economic growth and decarbonisation efforts, potentially creating up to 20,000 jobs and AU$114 billion revenue by 2035.

The Challenge is open to startups, entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers are to develop and present solutions to questions such as:

  • What are the next-generation drivetrain solutions and battery technologies we can apply and how do we produce them at scale?
  • How do we invent and apply advanced manufacturing techniques?
  • What are the software solutions to integrate drivetrain upgrades with existing vehicle technology, to add advanced driver-assist technologies and to maximise their energy storage benefits (Vehicle-to- Grid)?
  • How do we most efficiently train and upskill the workforce required to complete the retrofits and adhere to safety compliance?

Startups receive prizes, support, networking and mentoring to accelerate their success.

“Transport is an obvious target for reform, particularly in Australia with our reliance on road freight and use of mining vehicles. We need to encourage the supply of more EV’s sooner into the Australian and global markets. Putting electric motors and batteries into existing vehicles at scale and massively increasing Australian battery demand is a sure-fire and fast-track way of getting it done,” said Danny Kennedy, CEO New Energy Nexus.

“Australia produces half of the world’s lithium yet retains less than 1% of the value it produces. We can’t just keep sending our lithium offshore where others capture its value. It’s time we change this, together,” said Kirk McDonald, Project Manager Supercharge Australia.

“We’d need AU$181 billion worth of batteries to retrofit half the Australian vehicle fleet, or 20x our current near term forecast demand to 2030. This quantity would de-risk and incentivise lithium battery and cell production in Australia, in the best case using our world-class renewable energy resources.

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Source: Energy Lab

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