The state government wants half of all new cars sold in Victoria by 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles, and is offering subsidies of up to $3,000 to help kickstart ownership.
The Andrews government will provide 20,000 subsidies of up to $3,000 for new electric vehicle purchases under $69,000, as part of a $100-million plan to encourage electric vehicle use.
The first 4,000 subsidies will be available from Sunday.
“When people get an EV (electric vehicle) they are starting to save significant dollars off their bills,” Climate Change Minister Lily D ‘Ambrosio told the ABC.
“It’s almost up to $1,600 that is saved off fuel and maintenance costs, each and every year, so we want to make it easier for Victorians.”
As part of the package, the state will also spend $19 million on new charging stations and $10 million to expand the government EV fleet by 400 cars over the next two years.
The government will establish an expert advisory panel to advise it on the policies and infrastructure needed to meet the 50 per cent target by 2030.
There are fewer than 7,000 electric vehicles registered in Victoria and only 20,000 on Australian roads.
The 2030 target and subsidies are part of the Andrews government’s strategy for Victoria to have net zero emissions by 2050, with interim targets for 2025 and 2030 to be announced on Sunday.
Last year, the government failed to meet its own deadlines to set the interim emission reduction targets for 2025 and 2030.
Part of the interim targets policy are “sector pledges”: policies and payments to help industries — including agriculture and transport — move towards net zero emissions.
The new electric car subsidy is part of the transport sector pledge. Transport is the second-largest emitter behind energy.
The take-up of electric vehicles in Australia has been slow compared to other developed nations, according to the Electric Vehicle Council, which said Australia lacked the type of incentives, including subsidies, available around the world.
The cheapest electric vehicle on the market is still more than $44,000.
In some countries, subsidies of up to $15,000 are available.
The council also said Australia was well behind other nations by not having tough fuel efficiency standards for cars.
Wodonga retiree Rod Clutterbuck has been looking to buy an electric vehicle for some time, to do his bit to “save the planet”.
He said subsidies would help others view electric vehicles as a viable alternative.
“We’ve been wondering why we haven’t had one [subsidy] in Australia. Now it sounds like we might be on the march to a better system,” Mr Clutterbuck said.
The announcement of the Victorian subsidy followed a coalition of car companies and environment groups slamming the Andrews government for having “the worst electric vehicle policy in the world” because of a new road tax on electric vehicles.
The new charge is 2.5 cent/km charge for electric and other zero-emission vehicles, including hydrogen vehicles, and a 2.0 cent/km for plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles.
The state argues the tax is an electric vehicle user’s contribution to the road network, which is paid by other motorists through fuel excise.
Ben Warren, national manager of electrification and mobility for Nissan, said the subsidy and 2030 targets were a good “first step” to encouraging people to make the switch to electric vehicles.
“The challenge with a road user charge is, in isolation, it seems like a penalty to electric vehicle owners and drivers, ” Mr Warren said.
“But when you offset that with incentives and different measures it will at least get back to a neutral starting point.”
Opposition MP Georgie Crozier accused the government of coming up with incosistent policies on the spot.
“It just demonstrates that the government has really misjudged this policy again. It’s another demonstration of policy on the run.”
Treasurer Tim Pallas has previously said the revenue raised from the new charge would be “more than offset” by measures to encourage electric car use, such as creating new charging stations.
The road users charge was expected to raise about $12 million per year, with $45 million set aside for electric vehicle incentives in the state budget.
Mr Pallas said the subsidy would “encourage more drivers to consider purchasing a zero-emissions vehicle – and ensure Victoria leads the nation in zero-emissions vehicle uptake.”
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