While Holden’s Elizabeth car plant in Adelaide sits dormant since shuttering in 2017, just 20km down the road a new Australian electric vehicle startup will begin producing vehicles once more.
ACE EV is the first company to build electric commercial vehicles on Australian soil, and has set a target to build 15,000 EVs by 2025. Beyond its Cargo van and Yewt ute, it will also make a four-seat electric hatch called the ACE Urban.
The company, led by managing director Greg McGarvie, will partner with Adelaide commercial vehicle specialist Aldom Motor Body Builders based in Wingfield, South Australia.
ACE built its first van in a warehouse south of Brisbane, but will utilise Aldom’s large-scale production expertise to ramp up production at a new facility nearby Holden’s old Elizabeth site.
McGarvie told ABC News that Adelaide was a perfect fit for electric vehicle production, and that he sees a “huge appetite” in Australia for EVs.
"Adelaide has got a history of auto and there are a lot of supply chain opportunities that will support our manufacturing of electric vehicles," he said.
"The third vehicle ordered from our company is by an Adelaide lady and we'll be presenting her with a Cargo badge which will go on the third vehicle in Australia next year when she collects it. Effectively, all she needs to do is drive the vehicle home, plug it into the garage and charge it up like an iPhone overnight."
"We know for sure that there's a huge appetite for electric vehicles in Australia,"
Though the four-year-old company plans to produce up to 15,000 vehicles in five years, around 80 percent of those will be exported to other right-hand drive markets.
The vehicles will be built from around 50 percent locally-produced parts, with the remainder imported from China. Despite ALP candidate Bill Shorten announcing a taxpayer-funded proposal to prop up local vehicle production if elected, ACE says it will be going ahead without any funding from the Government.
"We're taking orders now, there's only 100 vehicles available for 2019 and Aldom will be manufacturing the first quarter 2020, so next year,” McGarvie said.
"We're hoping that we'll get up to 15,000 [built] a year. Of that 15,000 we would expect around 80 per cent will be export. We're very pleased to be in South Australia. It's a state that seems to be embracing new technology and a focus on the future.”