Auto, UX & Technology, UX Strategy

Australian Automotive: Incredible Innovations

In the late noughties,  the electrification of the automotive industry reinvigorated a movement in Australia. With their huge supply of lithium, it seemed obvious that the nation would begin shifting focus to electric vehicle production. This, in turn, encouraged a steady increase of automotive businesses and startups all across the country. This article will look at how automotive technology startups have been working to define a new age in the automotive/transportation space in three different, but equally innovative ways. 

Car and Ride Sharing

A huge trend seen across Australia over the past few years has been car and ride sharing. Separate yet similar, car sharing involves renting a private car when needed, and ride sharing is when you book the use of a private car through an app, sometimes sharing that ride with other users. A huge name in this space is Car Next Door – a startup founded in Sydney that allows for peer-to-peer car rental, so individuals can rent privately owned vehicles to other users of the app, on an hourly or daily basis. In 2019, South Korean motor giant, Hyundai, invested $8.2 million dollars into the business, and earlier this year, they were acquired by Uber Australia! 

Shebah is another example of Australian automotive innovation, a startup created to offer ride-sharing services for women and children. According to founder Georgina McEncroe, the platform was created to offer an alternative for women who may not feel safe being in cars alone with male taxi drivers. As quoted from a Guardian article, “almost two complaints per month of sexual harassment were forwarded to the Taxi Services Commission, according to a freedom of information request by the Herald Sun two years ago and one complaint “of a sexual nature” was made every week to Transport for NSW in 2010”. Though the startup was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, they’ve managed to pull through, and keep offering alternative solutions to modern automotive/transportation problems. 

Chargers for Electric Vehicles

Another way in which Australian startups are working towards an innovative automotive future is through the production of high-speed electric vehicle charging stations. One of the most famous examples of this is Tritium – a Brisbane-based startup founded by 3 engineering graduates back in 2001. Now seen all over Australia, is it said that if you’ve ever used an EV within the country, you’ve likely also used a Tritium charger. 

Tritium’s solid and sturdy chargers are designed to look visually impressive whilst also thriving in harsh weather conditions, so that they can be used anywhere, by anyone. Now a hugely successful company, they have sold thousands of chargers to over 40 countries worldwide, and even claim to be the second-largest fast-charging company in the world! Recently, they announced they were opening a factory in Tennessee, USA, and even visited the White House to announce this feat alongside President Joe Biden!

Vehicle Subscription Platforms

One final way in which Australian startups have innovated the user experience of automotive is through vehicle subscription platforms. This means that instead of purchasing a car, users instead use a car by paying a regular subscription fee, similar to how you’d pay for Spotify or Amazon! This fee tends to include anything you’d need, like insurance, maintenance, roadside assistance etc., almost everything apart from petrol. Unlike leasing, most subscriptions are charged on a weekly/monthly basis and can be cancelled at any time. As well as this, your model can be switched out as frequently as needed, depending on what type of vehicle you may need. 

One company paving the way for this service in Australia is Carbar, a ‘no commitments’ service that provides you with a car for a weekly charge. Hugely successful, they were founded in Melbourne back in 2016, and have recently completed a $28.9 million funding round. Though exact numbers are not available, Carbar claims to have seen a 2000% increase in users since 2019, a spectacular feat for such a young company.

As for how platforms like Carbar can integrate with technologies discussed earlier in this article, such as electric vehicles, co-founder and CEO Des Hang said this whilst speaking to Business News Australia: 

“We also believe Carbar will play an instrumental role in the adoption of EVs across Australia as there are few solutions out there helping make these cars more accessible and easier to afford. The global rise of EVs is an inflection point for the auto industry. We want to be a global brand before this trend is fully realised, and in order to do that we need to further accelerate our growth.”

It’s clear that the Australian automotive startup space is vibrant and vast, full of new ideas and innovations that can allow for different experiences of automotive ownership and transportation options. Whether it’s how users catch a ride, or how the car is able to start, or even how the user is paying for the vehicle, it’s clear that these experiences are only growing and improving with the improvement of technology. What will be the next innovation we see in the Australian automotive industry? 

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