BMW Group Australia CEO Vikram Pawah says the government could do more to support the electric vehicle industry

Image: BMW Group Australia.
This article has been sponsored by BMW Australia.  »
  • Only 16% of Australians believe they are adequately informed about electric vehicles.
  • BMW Group Australia CEO Vikram Pawah says the industry as a whole is keen to see more government support in the space.
  • The company’s sustainability strategy is through ‘Power of Choice,’ giving customers the choice between different drive technologies without having to compromise on performance or design.
  • BMW’s already well established with portfolio of electrified models including plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV).
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

As more car companies start to introduce electric vehicles into their product lineups and the number of charging stations across Australia increases, driving a greener alternative is becoming more achievable to the average consumer.

However, there are still some sizeable barriers to the mass uptake of electric vehicles, and education on the benefits is a big one. According to a Nielsen report titled ‘Caught in the Slow Lane,’ only 16% of Australians believe they are adequately informed about electric vehicles.

BMW Group Australia CEO Vikram Pawah is looking to address this barrier with a multifaceted approach. “We are taking responsibility of supporting our dealer network through extensive staff training on electric vehicles, and by extension we are educating the public around the topic of electromobility,” he told Business Insider Australia.

“We also aim to introduce as many electrified vehicle variants to the Australian market with each product launch increasing consumer awareness and sparking conversations around the topic of electric vehicles. We already provide an extensive range of electrified models both via plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric (BEV) and that offering will continue to expand and improve.”

When it comes to the more traditional concerns like range anxiety — how far an electric vehicle can go on a single charge and the subsequent availability of chargers when needed — Pawah says the company is taking a practical approach by listening to customer feedback.

“To alleviate concerns around range anxiety, we have continually introduced updated variants of the innovative BMW i3s which is now capable of delivering 260km of driving range,” he said. “That is double the original number while maintaining the same iconic silhouette and cabin space thanks to the advancement in battery technology.”

Additionally, BMW established and continually improves its line-up of plug-in hybrid models to provide solutions for those looking to drive completely on electric power with the support of the combustion engine if required. “Some of our latest PHEV models have doubled their electric-only range in the past year,” Pawah said.

“We also have plans to introduce a dynamic suite of electric vehicles over the next two to three years including the BMW i4, BMW iX3 and BMW iNext. These models, which span different segments, will deliver enhancements in range, performance and usability within our electrified product range to enable customers to effortlessly find a solution that suits their individual needs.”

BMW Group Australia CEO Vikram Pawah.

To see more consumers adopt electric vehicles, Pawah says the automotive industry as a whole is keen to see the government step up with cash incentives for buyers and further investment in charging infrastructure.

“Many of the electric vehicles available in the Australian market are priced higher than their equally specified combustion or diesel counterparts due to the extensive battery development behind this drive technology,” he said. This lines up with the feelings of Aussie drivers as well, with 79% of respondents in the Nielsen report saying lower prices was the key factor that would entice them to buy an electric vehicle.

“High electric vehicle uptake markets such as U.S., China and Norway offer monetary incentives to buyers of a plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicle which effectively offers electric vehicles as a choice for customers that otherwise may not consider it due to the pricing discrepancy,” Pawah said.

“Furthermore, these countries have invested in a strong charging network with more than 20,000 charging stations currently available in the U.S. and more than 48,000 new public charging stations expected to be introduced in urban and rural regions of China. In comparison, Australia currently has 2,000 charging stations nationwide.”

BMW Group Australia has a partnership with Chargefox, Australia’s largest electric vehicle charging network which is powered by 100% renewable energy. This allows BMW to provide its i3 and i3s 120 Ah customers with a three-year charging subscription, including a complimentary 250kW/year allowance.

“This allowance equates to more than six complimentary charging sessions where the vehicle is charged from zero to full and allows customers to use the new Chargefox Ultra-Rapid EV chargers to do so,” Pawah said.

The company also believes in giving consumers the power of choice by offering a number of vehicle variants, including hybrid and fully electric among its traditional petrol and diesel options. “For BMW Group, electromobility technology development is a given, but it is much more than just investing in an individual drive technology. Sustainable mobility can only succeed if customers have access to the technology and can seamlessly integrate it into their lives,” Pawah said

“As mentioned, we are currently pursuing our ‘Power of Choice’ strategy which gives customers the choice between different drive technologies without having to compromise on performance or design. This strategy is complemented by a diverse and extensive product portfolio which allows us effectively cater to different regions of the world that are shifting toward electromobility at varying rates.”

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