– By Caroline Falls –
An Australia and New Zealand chapter of launched in October with more than 70 members signing up. Alina Dini, CEO of Brisbane-based Whirl, a matching service for EV owners and wanna-be EV owners, is the inaugural chair. (Whirl has been named a finalist in the global green business ideas competition Climate Launchpad, run by Climate KIC.)
“As the local electric vehicle industry grows in the Southern Hemisphere, this chapter (of the US-based association) will convene women working professionally on EVs to empower, elevate, educate, inspire and celebrate women working in this space,” said Dini. She said membership is open to men as well.
The Electric Vehicle Council supported the foundation of the group, which met for the first time on Zoom with a fantastic lineup of speakers, including Tonia Buell, a board member of the US-based Women of Electric Vehicles (WEV). Buell is also president of non-profit EV advocacy group Plug-In America, and product development manager of Washington State Department of Transportation’s Innovation Partnerships. Buell has been working in the EV sector since 2009 and worked on creating the Wes Coast electric highway, a network of DC fast chargers stretching from British Columbia in Canada down to Mexico.
“There’s a saying — behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have your back. So I think that WEV is really all about that, elevating each other, really empowering us to be the best that we can be,” said Buell.
Chau Le, a board member of the Electric Vehicle Council, and general manager of strategy and mobility at Australian utility Origin Energy, was also on the panel.
“I’m pretty excited to be involved in both the EVC as well as the Women of EV, and have the ability to collaborate with everyone,” said Le, adding these transformative years of shaping a new mobility future has people from all sectors — OEMs, fleet managers, financiers and charging providers among others working together. “We want to achieve more supportive EV policies in Australia, as well as to develop the Australian market — instead of being a laggard to being a global leader.”
Kirsten Corson, founder and CEO of New Zealand’s Zilch Car Sharing, which uses exclusively electric vehicles, was another great speaker.
Corson mentioned New Zealand’s latest NZ$8,000 clean car discount had ignited interest within the consumer and the business sector to put EVs in fleets. “Some 70 percent of our new cars are bought by businesses so they have a very big part to play,” said Corson. Corson is also involved in sustainable fleet finance which is financing charging infrastructure and EVs, as well as a carbon asset management consultancy Greenfleet.
Le picked up the point again about how collaborative different stakeholders are being at the moment as the industry is being developed. “We all need to work together and put differences aside,” adding,” I think as women we’re more conducive with that, dropping those barriers and reaching out, asking for help, asking for advice, and I hope that Women in EV is the forum for us to be able to do that and work together and take this sector somewhere exciting.”
Dini, as host, said: “That’s an excellent way to close. We absolutely benefit from having a really diverse audience to talk about sustainability.”