Australia falls behind the rest of the world in electric vehicles


Australia is trailing the rest of the world when it comes to encouraging the use of electric vehicles (EVs), with the ACT being the only jurisdiction in Australia which offers any sort of incentive to motorists to go electric.

Most countries in Europe, and many states in the USA and provinces in Canada, offer tax breaks such as registration discounts, lower sales tax, and reduced tolls. There are also preferential parking schemes and other incentives.

Two major reports on EV usage in Australia have been recently published, highlighting the issues electric vehicles face.

The Future is Electric’ was released by the NRMA, the country’s largest motoring organisation, and the Electric Vehicle Council. “The humble car is undergoing a major paradigm shift,” says the report.

“Manufacturers and technology companies are rapidly moving the automotive industry towards an electric and automated future. As trends around the world point to increasing numbers of electric vehicles, jurisdictions have begun to put in place strategies to phase out petrol and diesel propulsion.”

The report outlines the widespread and growing use of EVs in many countries, and compares that to the small uptake in Australia, where just 0.1 percent of cars sold last year were electric.

It makes a number of recommendations on how to incentivize electric vehicles, including more charging stations and more EV-friendly government policies.

“The Australian Government should remove impediments to the purchasing of electric vehicles,” it says.

“Australia has a low uptake of electric vehicles compared with our global counterparts. Less than one per cent of Australian vehicles currently possess electric drivetrain technology. The Australian Government should provide a short-term exemption to Fringe Benefits Tax and abolish the Luxury Car Tax for electric vehicles and associated infrastructure to encourage mass adoption.”

The report also calls for governments to demonstrate leadership by buying EVs for their own fleets, which are substantial. It also wants more intergovernmental cooperation:

“The transition to EVs will provide significant benefits across energy, transport, public health, infrastructure and industry development. The Australian Government should establish an intergovernmental working group, representing governments, industry and consumers, tasked with establishing a roadmap for the co-ordinated transition to electric road transport, including the deployment of associated infrastructure.”

It points out Australia’s almost total reliance on imported vehicle fuel, linking EVs with energy security.

Another major report, from The Australia Institute, makes many of the same recommendations.

“Governments around the world offer incentives to support electric vehicles. Australia does not,” says the report, which goes on to examine how Australia can boost electric vehicle sales “in four proven, low-cost ways.”

The report, If you build it, they will charge, looks at policies Australian governments can implement to overcome barriers to EV usage.

“If governments act now to support the development of the market, financial and environmental benefits will flow.”

It proposes four incentives:

  • A Luxury Car Tax exemption for electric vehicles, to better target the scheme’s two-tiered threshold structure towards environmental outcomes.

  • Charging station rebates, which would boost rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure and minimise duplication of sites and technological standards.

  • A scheme to reduce the upfront cost of electric vehicles without cost to the budget.

  • An offer to allow electric vehicles to utilise bus lanes in congested urban centres, supported by a rollout of EV-only license plates.