The Australian Government Wants to Know if We Should Be Building EV Batteries Locally

The Australian Government Wants to Know if We Should Be Building EV Batteries Locally

The Federal House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water is looking into whether locally manufactured EV batteries are viable, potentially being the first step in a drastically changed electric vehicle supply chain for this part of the world.

Australia’s potential for electric vehicle battery production is vast. Our country is home to a huge amount of rare earth materials essential for battery production, such as cobalt and manganese, along with the most essential element (but not a rare earth) – lithium.

The idea that Australia could adopt a “mine and make” approach to electric vehicle batteries is worth exploring. As we’re mining our resources to be processed and turned into electric vehicle and home battery solutions in other countries, particularly in India and China – 53 per cent of the world’s lithium is mined down under, with most of it sent to China, as reported by the New York Times.

The economics of it all don’t weigh up – but that’s what we’re talking about here.

At the time of writing, there is virtually only one lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility based in Australia (in Newcastle), with other facilities typically dedicated to specific parts manufacturing, such as a cathodes facility in the Northern Territory.

The Standing Committee wants to know if we can do the whole ordeal locally, not necessarily revitalising the Australian car industry, but at least giving us a bigger piece of the EV industry pie.

The Committee is examining the establishment of resources, systems, and infrastructure surrounding EVs; the impact of transitioning to electric, opportunities for fuel savings; the impact of electricity consumption on demand; and the impact of Australia’s EV supply compared to other countries. However, the most interesting theme is “The opportunities for expanding EV battery manufacturing, recycling, disposal and safety, and other opportunities for Australia in the automotive value chain to support the ongoing maintenance of EVs”.

Going into the 2022 Federal election, the then Labor opposition floated the idea of Australian batteries being as “recognisable as Holden”.

“Developing Australia’s battery manufacturing capability is a step towards the potential for domestic electric vehicle manufacture. Labor will create a Future Made in Australia. Australia should be a renewable energy powerhouse, not just a raw materials supermarket,” said then-opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

“By manufacturing here, we can not only create jobs and economic opportunity but the more of the vehicles that appear on our roads, the better we do in tackling transport and the emissions that come out of transport,” Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic told Gizmodo Australia in 2022.

Let’s just hope with a focus on electric vehicle battery production we keep the environment in mind – because EV materials certainly take a toll, and aren’t completely perfect for the Earth.

Submissions will be open until March 22.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Want more Aussie car news? Here’s every EV we’ve reviewed in the last two years, all the EVs we can expect down under soon, and our guide to finding EV chargers across the country. Check out our dedicated Cars tab for more.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.