Energy

The group of Latrobe Valley wonders if an electric vehicle plant will ever be established

Summary

Over two years after it had been reported ahead of the 2018 Victorian state election, residents in Latrobe Valley would like to know if an electric vehicle plant will be built. During a trip to the area on the eve […]

Over two years after it had been reported ahead of the 2018 Victorian state election, residents in Latrobe Valley would like to know if an electric vehicle plant will be built. During a trip to the area on the eve of the election campaign, Premier Daniel Andrews revealed a deal with the firm SEA Electric to establish 500 positions building electric vans. The project was at the heart of the government’s reaction to the shutdown of Hazelwood power station, as well as its effort to reclaim Morwell’s marginal seat.

However, over two years later, no location has been identified, and the company has stated that it would need to amend the agreement in order for the project to proceed. The government has not allocated any money to the firm since May 2019, claiming that its funding is “conditional on the company reaching targets set out in the agreement.” It refused to say how much was paid, claiming that the matter was confidential.

Russell Northe, an independent from Morwell, believes the factory will never be built and that the government should be clear about its prospects. Mr. Northe stated, “If it isn’t going on, at least come forward and tell the group why it isn’t going ahead as well as look at other choices for Latrobe Valley community.” SEA Electric has changed its attention to foreign markets since the deal was signed, and its CEO, Tony Fairweather, is now centered in the United States.

He mentioned that the firm would like to move forward with the Latrobe Valley plant if the emphasis could be shifted away from manufacturing vans and toward electric buses as well as battery packaging. The factory was delayed last year, according to Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, due to a dispute with Westpac bank over a $7 million trade finance package that required to be repaid as well as closed.

Mr. Fairweather said that in the United States, there was plenty of funding for electric vehicles and that the problems with Westpac “pretty well sums up the difficulties linked with [electric vehicles] in Australia at the present.” Despite the better prospects abroad, he stated he still wanted to grow the company in Australia and “follow through” on his promise to establish a plant in the Latrobe Valley. “And if the state has the right to change our terms in the arrangement and look at different organizing of what we are doing down there,” Mr. Fairweather stated, “we are accessible to that.”