The good old Aussie panel van is making a comeback, of sorts – and Australians will be able to support local manufacturing once again for less than $30,000 a pop.
Australian start-up Ace now has two of its European-designed, locally-assembled (from local and imported parts), all-electric cars available for pre-order, with the first deliveries expected to be start late next year.
The Ace Yewt, an electric ute, and the Ace Cargo, an electric delivery van, can now be reserved online for a fully refundable fee of $199 (for the first 30) or $480 respectively – but you'll have to be willing to wait.
"We're going to begin setting up our factory and we're hoping to have the first vehicle roll off [the production line] on the 22nd of October, 2021,"Greg McGarvie, Managing Director and part owner of Ace Electric Vehicles, told CarAdvice.
"That first car will be a Cargo delivered to a South Australian woman who was the first to make a reservation."
Mr McGarvie said reservations of both cars have already exceeded expectations, despite the fact the company is yet to do any marketing, citing one customer in particular who reserved three Cargo vans.
Both the Yewt and the Cargo are yet to officially launch, but already Ace has already had to pre-emptively increase its production capacity expectations due to offshore demand.
"We're planning to export 70 per cent of our products offshore in a smart pack – it will be Australian branded and we will train partner companies overseas to assemble the cars so we can create new jobs and stop the need to import fossil fuels," Mr McGarvie explained.
While he was unable to specifically reveal Ace's biggest international markets, the Managing Director said the company was focussing its attention away from India and China and instead onto some "unusual countries" that are "mostly green" already.
"Originally our plan was to produce 24,000 units a year, but we've ramped that up to be over 50,000 – Australian buyers will have access to 30 per cent of that output (or 15,000 vehicles a year)," Mr McGarvie said.
Ace is determined to offer flexible pricing in line with that of a traditional internal-combustion vehicle. The Yewt starts at $25,995 before on-road costs and the Cargo is priced from $29,995 before on-road costs.
Customers will be able to buy or lease the vehicle and rent its battery separately for around $5 to $7 a day, with a five-year warranty.
In mid-2022, Ace will expand its line-up to include a city car called the Urban, which will be priced from $35,995 before on-road costs and will be available to reserve from February 1, 2021.
All of Ace's electric cars will be road legal in all Australian states, with the company confident of coming to market with a five-star ANCAP rating. ANCAP itself, which has not yet begun testing, has cautioned this may not be the case.
Currently electronic stability control is listed as an option, though it is mandatory under Australian design rules.
Although comprehensive specifications are yet to be released, Ace claims its vehicles will offer 150-200km of range on a single charge (but a bigger battery option will be able to double that figure) and can be fully recharged over a period of 8-12 hours on an average wall socket. DC charging is listed among the options, to bring down charge times for faster turnarounds.