Queensland ‘ACE’ startup plans to revive Aussie car industry with electric vehicles

Queensland startup ACE EV has plans to revive the Australian car making industry with their range of cars assembled from imported flat-pack electric vehicle kits.

Costing just $40,000, the ACE range of EVs are also one of the cheapest electric cars available in Australia. The team used special carbon fibre body panels from Taiwan and glued the EVs together in a Brisbane warehouse.

Company director Gavin McGarvie says this method is unlike any other car-making process out there. “What we have here is nothing like Tesla — it’s nothing like any of the other automakers,” he told ABC News.

ACE Cargo EV with designer Will Qiang talking to an attendee at SEC 2019.

ACE Cargo EV with designer Will Qiang talking to an attendee at SEC 2019.

ACE Cargo EV with designer Will Qiang talking to an attendee at SEC 2019. 

On Tuesday, the company showcased the ACE Cargo, a two-seat transport van, at Sydney’s Smart Energy Conference & Exhibition 2019. In addition, the ACE range includes a trayback ‘Yewt’ and a two-door hatchback.

To begin with, ACE will not target sales at the public. Instead, commercial and business customers will get first option to buy.

For a 360 degree tour of the ACE EV Cargo exterior, see the YouTube video below.

Election policies could decide fate of EV industry

Both major parties have announced policies to grow Australia’s fleet of electric vehicles ahead of May’s federal election. Both, too, have received mixed responses from peak industry body, the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC).

In February, the Morrison Government’s one-page National Electric Vehicle Strategy pondering – among other things – a mandate on generic charging plugs for EVs, drew criticism from the EVC. It was subsequently dubbed “underwhelming”, and “a plan about a plan”.

Labor, however, as part of its climate policy, sets a goal that by 2030, 50 per cent of all new cars sold in Australia must be electric. Its EV plan gives tax breaks to businesses to purchase EVs and set a government electric vehicle target of 50 per cent by 2025.

The EVC is backing Labor’s strategy, calling it a “giant leap for affordability, investment, and the environment”.

Of the 19 million registered vehicles on Australian roads, only 0.2 per cent are EVs. Despite EV sales increasing by 67 per cent in the years 2016-17, Australia still lags behind the globe in the uptake of electric cars.

ACE EV asking for policy support to build business

Currently, McGarvie is funding ACE EV with his own money, overseas investment, and also help from a skeleton crew of workers.

He hopes to raise enough capital with this initial round of sales to scale up manufacturing for the domestic market.

One policy boost he envisions mirrors New Zealand, whereby investors in EV technology receive 50 per cent of costs funded by government.

Flat-pack electric vehicle parts currently Taiwan made

Partner and chief designer Will Qiang wants to increase the local content of the flat-pack electric vehicles in future. He then forecast that a crowdfunding program may facilitate ACE’s growth.

ACE Cargo EV interior at SEC 2019

ACE Cargo EV interior at SEC 2019

ACE Cargo EV interior (Note the open door warning is in Chinese!)