Australia’s first electric vehicle manufacturing company Avass aims to capitalise on the region’s skilled workforce and Deakin University research and set up a plant at Avalon Airport.
Geelong community leaders have hailed the timing of the launch as ideal in the face of other manufacturing shutdowns such as Alcoa, Ford and Qantas and the shock announcement last week that Target will close its North Geelong headquarters, taking 900 jobs out of the city.
Avass has already started work in 12,500sq m of space in hangars one and two at Avalon, with commercial manager Dan Dang saying 500 was a conservative workforce estimate.
“We’ve got significant demand and obviously there’s a lot of labour we need to engage,” Mr Dang said.
“At the moment we’re being fairly conservative with our forecast, 500 is a realistic number for us based on limited market penetration at the moment.
“We certainly don’t want to be in a position where we take orders and can’t fulfil them.”
Avass was established in Melbourne six years ago and aims to focus on building 12m and 9m electric passenger buses and coaches and small trucks under the AVA brand for Australian, New Zealand and Asia-Pacific markets.
Chief executive Allen Saylav said the company had attracted strong interest in The Netherlands, South Asia, the Middle East and South America.
“Our technology is even stronger than what is currently on the market,” Mr Saylav said.
“With AVA we intend on manufacturing in Australia and globally in the respective regions.
“We believe AVA will become a worldwide household name when it comes to electric vehicle manufacturing.”
Geelong Manufacturing Council chief executive David Peart said negotiations had been underway with Avass for six months.
“Avass is a great opportunity for Geelong to build on its considerable strengths in transport equipment, design and manufacture, developed over many years to support the automotive industry,” Mr Peart said.
“The decision to locate in Geelong recognises the region’s existing skills and capacities. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate the research and development strengths in addition to the supply chain benefits across manufacturing and engineering.
“New materials and technologies are important for innovation and Geelong is well placed to deliver this.”
Avalon Airport chief executive Justin Giddings said the Avass plans were “massive”.
“It’s hi-tech so it really is the perfect spot for it, especially for Geelong with the way it is trying to head down that path,” he said.
“I think it’s just perfect, very exciting. It comes at a great time.”
He said a long-term deal had been struck.
Committee for Geelong chief executive Rebecca Casson said city leaders had attended an Avass launch and been impressed.
“This is also a really positive win for Avalon Airport and it really just shows the importance of Avalon to our region,” she said.