Coal baron, electric vehicle enthusiast and now self described “futurist” Trevor St Baker has blamed EV myths for the slow uptake of electric vehicles in Australia, saying that as many as four-in-five Australians underestimate the driving range of current EV models.

St Baker amassed his fortune as the owner of Delta Electricity and the Vales Point coal-fired power station, and who has been a trenchant critic of renewables, but he has also been a highly successful early investor in EV charging technology and networks.

St Baker, though his St Baker Energy Innovation Fund, has invested in fast charger manufacturer Tritium and Evie Networks, and has also become an early investor in TrueGreen Mobility, which is preparing to become one of the first ventures to assemble electric vehicles in Australia.

One of St Baker’s largest investments has been the 1,320MW Vales Point coal-fired power station, which was acquired from the NSW government at the cost of just $1 million. The power station, one of the state’s oldest, is expected to operate until at least 2029.

St Baker made an estimated $40 million investment in Tritium in return for around a 25 per cent ownership stake in the company. Tritium is set to list on the US Nasdaq exchange with an expected valuation of $2.2 billion – seeing St Baker’s stake worth almost $400 million after additional shares are issued to new shareholders.

In a media release on Friday, St Baker offered insights into the potential of electric vehicle technologies, saying Australia would need to end the sale of new internal combustion engines by 2035, mirroring targets set by countries like the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Electric Vehicles are now more affordable and accessible than ever, and sales have doubled in Australia during 2021, showing the surge in demand for renewable transport solutions,” St Baker said.

“Australia has a record-breaking uptake per capita of renewable wind and solar generation, but we are falling behind in the race to achieve our mission of zero net emissions by 2050.

“To hit this target, we need to put an end to new internal combustion engine vehicle registration by 2035.”

St Baker said that there remained some hesitation for some drivers around switching to electric vehicles, pointing to a study commissioned by the Electric Vehicle Council that found around 80 per cent of Australians underestimated the range of electric vehicles.

However, St Baker added that he sees the transport market approaching a “tipping point” and that providing more information to potential buyers was critical.

“We know that drivers are worried about how expensive the cars are to purchase and run, and how far they can travel on a single charge, which may discourage people from purchasing an EV. These perceived barriers are being removed rapidly now,” St Baker said.

“We’re committed to investing in technology innovation companies that are making it easier to make the switch to an EV.”

He itemised five common myths about EVs:

1. Range anxiety: He says EV chargers are more accessible than ever.

2. Charging time:  Public EV chargers can get drivers on the road within minutes. Ultra-fast charger  like those built by Tritium can add a range up to 350 km in 15 min, depending on the type of EV.

3. Poor performance: EVs offer instant torque and quiet acceleration, and thanks to manufacturers like Audi, Porsche, BYD and Telsa, there is no need to compromise on style and performance when switching to battery-powered cars.

4. Expensive to run:  He says EVs are cheaper to run than their petrol counterparts. Where the average Australian driver spends around $2,160 on petrol per year to travel 15,000km, the average EV driver only spends $600 per year to go the same distance.2

5. Expensive to buy: St Baker says as the technology has improved and the market share of EVs has increased, the cost of buying a battery-operated car has decreased, and TrueGreen will roll out electric passenger vehicles and delivery vans for just $35,000 by the end of the year.

Extracted in full from: “Futurist” Trevor St Baker says EV myths are slowing take up of electric cars (thedriven.io)

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