Electric dreams - The Good Car Company
When it comes to getting around on four wheels, electric dreams are now a reality for many – thanks to The Good Car Company.
As the price of petrol continues to rise, drivers are feeling the pinch and opening their minds to electric vehicles (EVs) that benefit both their bank balance and the environment. The cost of buying an electric car, however, is holding many people back. A Tasmanian-born enterprise is here to change that, one EV at a time.
The Good Car Company was founded by Sam Whitehead, Anton Vikstrom and Anthony Broese van Groenou in 2019 to accelerate sales of electric vehicles in Australia and save thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions in the process. While a car sales business may seem an unlikely choice for three environmental scientists, that’s exactly why they started one.
“A career in science is an incredibly valuable thing to contribute to society,” explains Sam. “Science collects the information that enables others to make good decisions. After working tirelessly to enable others, I decided I wanted to step up and apply my skills to actively addressing the climate crisis. And so began an experiment in using business as a tool for climate action.”
The enterprising trio recognised the importance of switching to electric vehicles, but with no affordable options available, they created the world’s first community electric vehicle bulk-buy. The business started by importing near-new electric vehicles from Japan and the UK to sell via regular bulk-buy events, email newsletters and directly from their website. This grassroots approach has so far resulted in the sales and delivery of hundreds of cars, with the Nissan Leaf proving most popular.
Importing cars is no easy task, but the business carries the high administrative cost and burden by leveraging community finance to fund vehicle purchase and import costs plus reduce borrowing costs — which ultimately benefits their customers. “We work hard, we build smart systems to reduce costs and we don’t scrape off the cream for ourselves,” explains Sam. “While 2021 was a tough year for international and domestic logistics, we delivered to happy and supportive people – and that thought makes me tingle.” But why is owning an electric vehicle still a dream for so many? The main barrier is the high price point of EVs, in part due to economies of scale and a lack of federal policies to attract EV manufacturers. Sam says this will only improve when more EVs are produced and bought and we have the policies in place to attract EV manufacturers to bring more models to Australian shores. Purchasing secondhand EVs which compete on price with petrol powered equivalents can help drive down prices and, more importantly, send a strong message to the market and decision makers that Australians want EVs, he adds.
There is a revolution happening … the charging network is great and getting better
Though, it’s not the only way. The trio recognised an appetite within their The Good Car Company community for new EVs and have adapted and evolved their business model. With the ability to bulk buy, The Good Car Company can negotiate a fleet discount on new cars directly with Australian car dealerships and offer its community members new EVs at a lower cost.
“People are surprised that a 2016 Leaf is at price parity with a 2016 Corolla,” Sam says. “We are reducing that barrier for near-new vehicles from overseas, and using the power of our community network to negotiate significant discounts with some of the new car dealerships. Add to this the much cheaper operating costs of an EV and people are very happy indeed.” Sam communicates with a passion that reflects the big-picture vision he and his business partners share. “There is a revolution happening,” he enthuses. “This is being supported by all levels of government, and all levels of business. The charging network is great and getting better. Local mechanics are slowly getting tooled up to service EVs. Backyard enthusiasts are converting existing cars to electric. The scale of the climate crisis is enormous, and globally people want – and are taking – action. “We started The Good Car Company with the goal of creating a cleaner, safer and healthier Australia. So far, so good – we are successful, we are impactful and we are building something beautiful.”