A philanthropic foundation backed by Mike Cannon-Brookes has invested $10m into Tasmanian startup the Good Car company to help slash the cost of secondhand electric vehicles in Australia.
The announcement from Boundless on Thursday follows months of signalling by Cannon-Brookes that he was prepared to invest large sums into businesses addressing aspects of the carbon transition.
The Good Car Company was founded in March 2019 by Anthony Broese van Groenou and Anton Vikstrom as a way to bring down the cost of electric cars.
To do this they would run a batch-buy program to which people could sign up to participate. The cars would be sourced from Japan and the UK, where they would be carefully checked for suitability before being imported.
Though individuals could also import cars through the company, these bulk-buy programs prioritise low-income communities in Tasmania and Victoria as a way to ensure a more equitable spread of the technology.
Broese van Groenou, the company’s managing director, said the cash injection was a “catalyst” that would ensure the company could operate “everywhere”.
“We want to bring electrification and affordable transport to everybody,” he said. “We’re already all over the east coast. We also want to focus on more regional areas as well, as they’re an area which are often overlooked by the market, generally.
“This really helps dispel myths.”
Prices on imported secondhand EVs can start at $20,000 – significantly lower than the $40,000 to $50,000 starting price of the most affordable new electric cars – and come with consumer protections such as battery warranty, recall notifications, servicing and roadside assistance.
Carmakers haven’t prioritised Australia as a market for electric vehicles due to a mix of poor regulation and hostility from the government, with many companies choosing instead to import bigger, heavier and thirstier SUVs, and hybrids.
As a result fewer battery electric vehicles are entering the secondhand market, which serves those who can’t afford to buy a new car.
In Australia new and secondhand electric vehicles and hybrids can be independently imported where the manufacturer is not already selling that vehicle in Australia.
However, carmakers with a presence in Australia and their industry representatives have historically argued against relaxing the rules around secondhand imports.
It is unclear how the new federal Labor government will proceed as a recent consultation paper examining the introduction of fuel efficiency and CO2 standards was silent on the issue.
“Some stakeholders have called for regulation to be relaxed to enable a wider range of second hand and new EVs to be imported,” it said.
“While this could increase the number and reduce the cost of second hand EVs available for purchase, it will need to be considered against the potential for increased safety, business and consumer protection risks.”