New driver takes the wheel at electric car lobby group

Jennifer Dudley-NicholsonAAP
Former Polestar Australia boss Samantha Johnson will guide the Electric Vehicle Council. (Jennifer Dudley Nicholson/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconFormer Polestar Australia boss Samantha Johnson will guide the Electric Vehicle Council. (Jennifer Dudley Nicholson/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Australia's peak electric vehicle lobby group will get a new driver after its inaugural chief executive revealed plans to step down from the role.

But the executive taking the wheel will be familiar to those in the automotive industry, with the former head of Polestar Australia announced as interim CEO just one day after she finished work with the Swedish EV manufacturer.

The announcements on Monday come just weeks after the Senate passed Australia's fuel-efficiency standard that is expected to boost the number of electric vehicles imported into Australia from next year.

Outgoing chief executive Behyad Jafari says he is proud of what the Electric Vehicle Council had achieved over his eight-year reign and Australia's transition to low-emission transport is assured.

"A sustainable and prosperous Australia requires an electric fleet and we are now established on that path," he said.

"Seeing New Vehicle Efficiency Standards passed into law represented a major milestone for our industry and I think it also created a natural time for me to step aside and let another leader continue to build the (council) and the industry into the future."

Mr Jafari welcomed the appointment of former Polestar Australia managing director Samantha Johnson as the group's interim leader, saying the she was "one of only a few executives with experience in launching an automotive brand in Australia".

Ms Johnson, who has led Polestar in Australia since October 2020, left her role with the company on Friday.

She is expected to lead the Electric Vehicle Council until the group recruits a permanent chief executive, and will receive support from Mr Jafari until July.

The lobby group was one of the strongest proponents for the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard that the Senate passed into law on May 16.

The fuel-efficiency standard will set emission limits across vehicle fleets from January, with targets to cut emissions from new passenger cars by 60 per cent and new commercial vehicles and large four-wheel drives by 50 per cent in 2029.

More than 87,000 new electric cars were sold in Australia last year, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, making up 7.2 per cent of all new vehicles and rising from 3.1 per cent in 2022.

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