The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will roll out the “most extensive financial incentives in the country” as it pushes to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035 and encourage drivers to buy electric vehicles (EVs).
The Labor-Greens-led ACT government’s ambitious plan for the nation’s capital also includes a goal for 90 percent of new car sales to be EVs by 2030.
Among the incentives will be cheaper registration fees for EVs (details to be decided) and the waiving of stamp duty fees (taxes) for individuals buying a new or second-hand EV. Currently, EV drivers enjoy free vehicle registration until 2024.
“The government recognises that affordability of [zero emissions vehicles] remains a critical barrier for many people. To address this, we will expand on what are already the most extensive financial incentives in the country,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said in a statement.
“The ACT is … aware that its current fixed registration system is weight-based and penalises heavier [zero emissions vehicle] models despite their lower emissions.”
EVs are heavier because of the large lithium battery, reinforced framework, and extra technology built into the vehicle—an issue that can actually affect the efficiency of the car when it travels.
“Any registration reform in the ACT would necessarily consider both emissions and distance-based charging and ensure zero emissions vehicles were incentivised over high emitting vehicles,” Barr added.
The waiving of stamp duty fees will extend to EVs and hydrogen vehicles purchased from Aug. 1, 2022, which is estimated to save consumers around $1,600 per car.
On top of this, the government will offer $2,000 grants to apartment buildings willing to install EV charging infrastructure. The ACT is also aiming to have a public charging network of 180 EV chargers by 2025.
A current and ongoing incentive is no-interest loans of $15,000 for the purchase of an EV vehicle through the Sustainable Household Scheme, and the exclusion of petrol cars from taxi and ride-share fleets by 2030 (so far Uber has slashed service fees for EV drivers in half).
How Useful Are EVs?
While the battery technology in EVs is improving, the average maximum distance is still limited to driving within cities, particularly considering the large Australian landmass.
For example, a Tesla Model S (costs over A$100,000) is slated to be able to achieve a maximum 500 kilometre (310 miles) distance on one charge, while a Nissan Leaf (around A$50,000) can achieve 170 kilometres (105 miles)—without considering battery drain issues.
For Australian drivers, a trip from Canberra to Sydney’s south-westernmost region of Campbelltown is around 233 kilometres (Campbelltown is still 56 kilometres from the CBD), meaning drivers will need to factor in one or more charges—and waiting time—during the journey.
The Canberra to Melbourne trip is even longer with the city’s northern suburb of Epping located around 632 kilometres from Canberra.
The ACT’s initiative also comes as the federal Labor government grapples with skyrocketing electricity prices and an increasingly unreliable energy grid—Australian energy producers have been reluctant to invest too heavily in coal-fired generators given existing pressure to support renewable energy development.
This issue has come to a head in recent months during the winter months, which has driven up electricity and gas usage and forced the national energy regulator to step in several times to make sure consumers have access to power.