2 June 2023

The Commonwealth car fleet is going electric (and German)

| James Coleman
Join the conversation
BMW iX front view

Pricing for the BMW iX starts at $135,900. Photo: BMW Australia.

Politicians and government officials will be silently transported about in new electric BMWs from the middle of next year following a decision by COMCAR to replace its internal-combustion fleet.

The new BMW iX40 and iX50 SUVs will take over official government driving duties from the diesel-powered BMW 6-Series GT models as they end their three-year leases.

There’s no dollar figure on the deal yet, but it’s said to make good on a commitment by the Federal Government for 75 per cent of its new vehicle orders to be low-emission by 2025.

READ ALSO Canberra’s Skywhale hot-air balloons can now get stuffed (but it’s knit that easy)

Based on Dairy Road in Canberra, the Department of Finance’s COMCAR fleet provides car-with-driver transport services for parliamentarians, the Governor-General, the federal judiciary and international guests of government.

It’s also available to parliamentary secretaries and shadow ministers for their personal safety when their private-plated vehicle or private vehicle can’t “reasonably” be used.

The current fleet consists of 92 BMW 620d sedans and 45 Toyota Camry Hybrid sedans. It dates back to 2020 when long-time COMCAR favourite, the Holden Caprice sedan, was retired to save taxpayers $100,000 each year with more “environmentally-friendly” options.


The COMCAR fleet (and AEC buses) in 1926. Photo: National Archives of Australia.

Prices for the new BMW iX40 start from $135,900 and the iX50, with a bigger battery, from $180,400. It’s a model that’s already been chosen for official duties within the NSW Police Force, with an iX40 joining the Highway Patrol team earlier in May 2023.

In COMCAR’s case, the iX was whittled down from an initial list of 40 cars and then 14 for “preliminary physical assessment”.

Under the Commonwealth Fleet Vehicle Selection Policy, the new fleet was to comprise low and zero-emission vehicles, score a five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) safety rating and meet “minimum fit-for-purpose requirements”.

Only nine cars reached the final stage – test drives in off-road and on-road conditions. In addition to the BMW models, these included the Polestar 2, Genesis GV60, Genesis GV70, Kia EV6, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y and Hyundai IONIQ 5.

READ ALSO Tesla pulls two models, so what happens if you’ve already ordered one?

In a statement, COMCAR said it considered “battery consumption, charging capability, vehicle handling, manoeuvrability and performance in a variety of traffic conditions, driver and passenger comfort, ease of access for passengers, luggage space and potential integration with the COMCAR Automated Resource System (CARS)”.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet also provided input.

Ultimately, the iX40 was identified as the “only vehicle that is suitable for all aspects of COMCAR’s operations”. The iX50, with its 550 km of estimated driving range, was chosen to help in “long-range driving conditions”.

rear view of BMW iX

The BMW iX. Photo: BMW Australia.

The cars “will initially cost more” than petrol or diesel equivalents upfront, but COMCAR expects “savings in the running costs, including fuel and maintenance”. It’s also understood works are planned for bringing the Dairy Road depot up to scratch.

“COMCAR is introducing EV charging capability in each of its state depots to support the operation of the new EV fleet and to avoid adding additional pressure on public EV charging infrastructure,” the COMCAR team said.

The first electric BMWs will arrive in mid-2023, with the full fleet in operation by mid-2024.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

“Prices for the new BMW iX40 start from $135,900 and the iX50, with a bigger battery, from $180,400” Hope the Greens are riding their bicycles

Maybe its the sound of a howling performance engine that a lot of people like. Going to electirc is about as exciting as listening to a sewing machine running…..no passion, no interest, just dull silence.

The spark buses I’ve nicknamed “Boing Boing buses” due to the stupid sound they make. IT quite sad really.

But, it seems electric is the “solution” for a non existent problem.

If you “fix” a non existent problem, could that be consdered a tad out of touch with reality?

Why does it matter what a vehicle sounds like?

I’m lost with how anyone can suggest that electric seems like a solution for a non-existent problem. You may need to look up the definition for “non-renewable resources”, as well as to look into air quality statistics in our larger cities. You’ll be enlightened.

The non existent problem is “climate change”…its really funny that grown adults believe in scientifically unproven fairy stories.

Be honest…how many people seriously want a spark to drive, by choice?

Not many.

What a load of misinformed denialist rubbish! You need to read a study or two, and avoid relying on social media experts (apparently such as yourself).

All these foreign-oil loyalists having the standard meltdown about using local energy instead of imported fuel.

The irony.

Talk about being brainwashed.

Brainwashed…wouldnt that be the title for the people who believe in the climate change fairy story?

Only the best and the most expensive for our elitist politicians

Capital Retro11:00 am 03 Jun 23

Germany’s economy is now in recession. In the last reporting period, government spending was 4.9% lower, and car sales also fell after government grants for electric and hybrid cars were scaled back.

Just saying.

Your point being?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.