The investment package targets manufacturing, transport and agriculture industries with financial support to use zero-emission energy including environmentally friendly mobility.
Within this, the fuels fund sets aside $74.5 million for businesses to access hydrogen, electric and bio-fuelled vehicles.
Australia’s peak automotive industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), said the investment initiative included innovative programs “which herald a quantum leap forward for the Australian environment and Australian industry”.
FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said the Australian automotive industry applauds the renewed focus on environmental improvements.
“Internationally, automotive manufacturers have been investing billions of dollars in the research and development of environmentally friendly technologies and vehicles – and they could all be headed to Australia if we have the right policy and infrastructure in place,” he said.
“In particular, it is heartening to see the federal government focus on encouraging the uptake of low and zero emission vehicles, particularly in business and regional communities, through the future fuels fund.
“With these initiatives in place, automotive manufacturers could continue to do what they do best – and that is to bring the latest, safest, and most fuel-efficient vehicles to the Australian market.”
Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) senior manager of future mobility and government relations Scott Nargar told GoAutoNews Premium the announcement would help boost efforts to grow its eco-car range in Australia.
“As the only car brand offering both battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles in Australia, we recognise the important role zero emissions transport can play in transitioning our market to a vibrant and cleaner future,” he said.
“Hyundai was already planning to launch more low and zero emission vehicles starting this year with the Nexo FCEV and another EV next year.
“Announcements like this help benefit the automotive industry by making more funding available for the rollout of EV chargers and hydrogen refuellers and this helps drive competition and consumer choice.”
Mr Nargar, who said the government announcement also included further funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). He said more infrastructure in the market leads to more zero-emission vehicles becoming available from manufacturers.
ARENA has been promised an additional $1.62b while the federal government will expand the focus of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in new and emerging energy sources, including supporting an emerging hydrogen industry.
“This will help drive consumer awareness of the technology and consideration to purchase,” Mr Nargar said.
“It will also help create new jobs and new industries in the renewable energy sector, EV charging, hydrogen production, distribution and refuelling stations.
“All of these sectors are going to need highly skilled technicians and engineers now and in the future, we see a great role for our national TAFE and university systems for this ever-growing sector.”
The future technologies program will also affect the Australian automotive supplier industry in other ways, including production of low carbon steel and aluminium.
By Neil Dowling