Aussie ‘Tesla’ eyes Gold Coast for headquarters
A HOME-GROWN Australian electric vehicle manufacturer trying to kickstart the nation's car industry is scouting Gold Coast sites for its $35 million global headquarters.
ACE-EV (Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicle) founder and managing director Greg McGarvie - who describes his fleet as Tesla-lite" - said the Gold Coast's enviable lifestyle and push to become an "innovation centre" was enticing for him.
Mr McGarvie who has already been given a $5 million Federal Government grant said the support of the Queensland Government and satisfactory connectivity via fibre optic cable would be needed to give the Coast a leg up over other contender South Australia for his HQ.
"The Gold Coast is selling itself as a place of innovation," Mr McGarvie said.
"It's about effectively who comes up with the best support for what we're trying to do.
"The key factor in our decision will be connectivity and the security of that connectivity."
The ACE Cargo van was its first vehicle in Australia, built in March last year in Brisbane, at Eight Mile Plains at the Motor Trades Association of Queensland Workshop.
The long-term manufacturing base would be in his hometown Adelaide but Mr McGarvie wants to base the company headquarters on the Gold Coast partly for lifestyle reasons.
The company had already flagged the commercial production of electric vehicles at a proposed $295 million facility in Adelaide, South Australia.
"We've put a lot of our own money into this operation so far - the global head office is really the jewel in the crown that's left.
"You could say we're Tesla-lite. Our vehicle is designed as a last-mile commercial delivery vehicle, or a business on wheels. It's affordable."
Mr McGarvie said the HQ would need close to "military grade security".
ACE-EV has built a small electric van and plans to build electric utes, the ACE Yewt, and the ACE Urban, a three-door passenger car.
Orders have been taken for 2020 for all three - with none priced above $40,000 - and the range launches in 2021.
Mr McGarvie, who has a background in marine biology, said about the potential Coast HQ: "In simple terms, you have a brain, you want it well protected.
"The global head office will co-ordinate our research and development and it will have an Australian design studio setup," he said. "It'll essentially be co-ordinating and running the (autonomous) vehicles."
Mr McGarvie said he was told "you can't build vehicles in Australia".
"We've done our first and we're about to be building 20 more here in South Australia in July next year," he said.
Originally published as Aussie 'Tesla' eyes Gold Coast for headquarters