Disappointingly, the issue of grey imports is once again on the Federal Government’s agenda. On this occasion, it is being flagged as part of the Albanese Government’s consultations on the National Electric Vehicle Strategy (NEVS) with questions around whether importing used EVs will help Australia boost its supply of EVs.
The AADA has used our submission to reiterate our strong opposition to any expansion of used car imports whether these vehicles are electric or not.
It really is disappointing that this proposal keeps coming up given the previous Government considered opening Australia up to used car imports on several occasions and consistently formally rejected it on safety and consumer protection grounds.
We are already concerned that the Government’s Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme is being used as a back door to bring in a high-volume of used car imports, including EVs. We believe the SEVs should be restricted, and any expansion should be roundly rejected.
We all want more electric vehicles in Australia, but tapping into the used import market is a regressive, high-risk solution. The safety and consumer risks do not magically disappear because these vehicles are electric. In fact, the provenance of the vehicle is even more important for EVs. Lithium-ion batteries comprise a major component of the cost of an EV and consumers should have the coverage of factory warranties and the security of being part of a formal recall network.
These batteries are also highly sophisticated, but can be hazardous and they should only be attended to by factory-trained technicians who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to handle the dangerous materials contained in the battery.
Another issue the Government should consider is the risk that Australia will become a dumping ground for old batteries which are coming to the end of their lives. It is no doubt tempting for other countries to disavow themselves of the responsibility of recycling and disposing of batteries. Again, these batteries contain hazardous materials and can be dangerous to recycle and it makes no sense for Australia to take on a disproportional role on this issue.
Advanced economies like the United States and the EU have not resorted to drastic measures such as used EV imports to boost their used EV markets. Instead they have worked through the OEMs and Dealer networks to facilitate a safe and carefully considered transition, affording consumers the protections they deserve.
Increasing the importation of old EVs is a lazy policy solution which will be bad for consumers, bad for automotive business and could even set back our transition to zero emissions transport.