Jaunt up-cycles iconic 4WDs into electric vehicles, which you can either purchase or rent via their partnerships with local communities and tourism venues. We worked with Jaunt to run an initial crowdfunding campaign and we’ve been hooked on the idea ever since.
We caught up with Dave Budge, co-founder of Jaunt and talked to him about all things EV and why Australia should be getting on board.
How does someone with a background in design, filmmaking and storytelling end up up-cycling cars?
My career has always been about the application of emerging technology whether that’s been through interaction design, digital storytelling, apps or websites. I’ve always loved the challenge of humanising emerging technology and making it approachable and user-friendly. And I also love four-wheel driving! I regularly head out off the beaten track to hike and camp but, at some point, I started to feel like a hypocrite. I was burning a lot of fuel to get to these pristine beautiful environments and so decided to investigate doing it differently. The idea for Jaunt was, really, a very personal one.
I once heard you say that Australia hasn’t embraced the idea of the electric vehicle as much as it could. Why do you think that is?
There’s never been any incentive from a federal or state government perspective. The countries that have seen a large uptake in EVs have had national incentives in place – cash back schemes or car tax removal. It’s also a chicken and egg situation because people assume that if there aren’t many EV’s then there will be no charging points, and that’s not true. Councils have been installing them for years and there are now thousands across Australia.
There’s also this notion that Australians aren’t known to be cultural leaders, we tend to follow the pack. We want other people to go first – whether that’s societal change, marriage equality of the adoption of the EV. There’s something called the cultural model and as a country, we rank as liking to avoid uncertainty. This translates in us wanting to see other people do it first, whether that’s seeing your mate pull up in an EV or the neighbours having one in their driveway.
It sounds likes you’ve got your work cut out for you?
We’re lucky that, as a business, we’re not relying on volume. We know we’re not going to change mainstream Australian car ownership with Jaunt, but we think we can inspire people to start paying attention to what EV’s can do.
So, why did you choose to up-cycle a 4WD? Why not start with something smaller?
Well, aside from the personal interest, when you look at car sales in Australia you see that one of the top-selling cars in this country is the 4WD. Aussie’s can’t get enough of them. We buy more 4WDs than any other place in the world, including the States. In the 60s and 70s, Australia was buying half the Land Rovers being made.
Where do you source the original vehicles from?
There are so many around. You could go and pick one today, for free, from a farmer who’s just keen to get rid of it. They also seem to make their way to our garage in Coburg, Melbourne. And we also go through a supplier in New South Wales called Land Rover Heaven.
And then you 3D print some of the components you need to up-cycle, right?
We do 3D print some components. Most 3D printing is still with plastic and we try to limit the number of plastics we put in the cars. We work with an engineering firm in Sydney who does 3D printing in metal onto existing parts. They’re called Romar Engineering and one of the guys who runs it is ex-Space X. Working with them lets us take an old gearbox and rather than buying separate plates, we can 3D print it in metal.
So, how can people experience Jaunt?
There are three ways, really. You can rent a vehicle from one of our tourism partners or directly from us, you can buy one directly from us or you can bring yours in and we’ll convert it for you. The car we built as our prototype is available to rent and then we’re building a vehicle which will be available to hire from Mountain Ridge Wines, near Nowra, New South Wales. That’s what we want to do more of – find the right partnerships across Australia for people to pick up a Jaunt vehicle and use it to explore the area. In that sense we’re kind of like Airbnb, we’re just building the houses as well as renting them out.
At Harvey, we believe the future of the planet rests on our collective shoulders. Making conscious decisions about the type of car we drive and how often we use it can be a small step towards driving change. It's through looking at the things we can control now that will have a positive impact on our future.