When it comes to electric vehicles in Australia, our uptake efforts have been mediocre at best.
According to figures from the Electric Vehicle Council in 2020, electric car sales account for just 0.7 per cent of all car sales in Australia, which is considerably less than other countries like the US, which stands at 8.1 per cent and Norway, where EVs account for a whopping 75 per cent of car sales.
And you simply can’t discuss the massive difference in EV uptake across the glove without addressing the uber-expensive elephant in the room: the cost of electric cars in Australia.
Obviously, there are other factors impacting EV uptake in Australia, including range anxiety. But price is certainly one of the biggest barriers for people trying to enter the electric vehicle market in Australia.
Thankfully, there are a few incentives you can take advantage of to make your first EV purchase a little less painful for your bank account.
Unfortunately, we have precisely zero federal government incentives to encourage electric vehicle purchases in Australia. Zero. Nil. Nada.
“Australian drivers are ready to join the exciting global electric car transition, but our politicians are yanking the handbrake,” Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari told WhichCar.
“There’s simply no sugarcoating it at this point – Australia has marked itself out as a uniquely hostile market to electric vehicles.
“We have no targets, no significant incentives, no fuel efficiency standard.”
The only benefit to owning an EV, federally speaking, is a slight decrease on the luxury car tax (LCT).
As it currently stands, fuel-efficient vehicles are taxed on every dollar over $77,565 (compared to $68,740 for combustion engines). From July 2021, the threshold will again be increased to $79,659 and $69,152 for fuel-efficient vehicles and combustion engines, respectively.
But this is just a recent improvement. Prior to the 2020 – 2021 financial year there was only a few hundred dollars difference in the LCT threshold between combustion and fuel-efficient vehicles.
It’s also not specific to EVs only.
New South Wales
Starting September 1, 2021, New South Wales will offer a $3,000 rebate for battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell cars purchased. The caveat? The vehicle has to be priced below $68,750 including GST.
This offer is available for the first 25,000 new vehicles purchased.
Additionally, the state government will waive stamp duty payable on both new and used EV and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles purchased for less than $78,000 including GST.
Combined, these two offers can lower the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle by over $5,000.
NSW is also reportedly planning on rolling out a number of new fast chargers to ensure all Sydneysiders will never be more than a 5-minute drive from a public charging point.
It’s worth noting that the government also plans on introducing a new EV tax that will see drivers pay 2.5c per kilometre (EVs) and 2c per kilometre (hybrids). However, this tax has been deferred until 2027.
Electric Vehicles purchased in Victoria are exempt from the luxury car stamp duty, which means you only pay $8.40 per $200 market value compared to up to $18 for combustion engine vehicles. However, this only benefits you if you’re purchasing a vehicle worth more than the $68,740 threshold.
Additionally, Victorians can cop $100 off their annual registration costs for simply owning an EV.
The Victorian Government has also introduced the ZEV subsidy, which can lower the cost of a new EV under $68,740 by $3,000. However, this offer is limited to 4,000 registrations currently, with an additional 16,000 spots to be made available at a yet-to-be-determined time.
“Labor’s EV tax comes at a time when transport is our biggest growing source of emissions in Victoria and we are lagging behind the rest of the world in the uptake of electric vehicles,” Victorian Greens spokesperson for transport Sam Hibbins told Gizmodo Australia.
“Passing the ‘worst electric vehicle policy in the world’ will now make Victoria a global laughing stock, and we will continue to be a laggard in EV uptake.”
Tasmania offers a two-year stamp duty waiver on both new and second-hand electric vehicles. This is estimated to offset the cost of purchasing mid-range EVs by as much as $2,000.
Additionally, the state recently announced it’s throwing a whopping $600,000 in grants to help develop more charging points across the region, particularly in popular tourism hotspots.
Queensland’s EV incentive policy is short and simple: you pay less stamp duty.
There are no grants or subsidies available currently, but drivers pay $2 per $100 in value up to $100,000, and $4 per $100 after the threshold. Comparatively, combustion engine vehicles pay up to $6.
The Queensland government has crunched the numbers and asserts you would save an estimated $4,869.75 over five years.
Australian Capital Territory
Furthermore, the ACT government offers interest-free (yes, 0% interest) loans of up to $15,000 to help cover the upfront costs of buying an electric vehicle, which makes it easier to invest in things like smart chargers, which are helpful but costly.
At the time that the interest-free scheme was introduced in November 2020, the Coalition branded the move as a “war on the weekend” because it would “force” people into buying EVs that can’t tow boats or caravans.
However, it appears the government has backflipped on this claim, with Energy Minister Angus Taylor now supporting the idea of consumer choice when it comes to vehicles, but still asserts he will never personally drive an EV. Go figure.
South Australia is yet to announce any real incentives, and is instead focussing on improving public infrastructure like charging stations across the state.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that South Australia has passed a similar tax that will see EV drivers pay 2.5 cents per kilometre and 2 cents per kilometre for hybrid drivers. However, the introduction of this tax has been postponed until July 2022.
If you’re an Uber, taxi or charter vehicle driver, you will be exempt from the 10 per cent on-demand transport levy in Western Australia by driving an electric vehicle.
For personal use, the major incentive to purchase an EV in Western Australia comes as part of the EV Home Plan Incentive, which offers $200 and 60km free per year for charging during off-peak periods.
Other than that, Western Australia doesn’t have any incentives on the vehicles themselves.
The Northern Territory currently has no electric vehicle incentives.
The most recent update on the situation was a discussion paper published in 2019, however, nothing has actually come out of this so far.
Overall, EV incentives in Australia could stand to be a lot better, and here’s hoping the government will continue to roll out state and federal incentives in the coming months and years.
We’ll be sure to update this story as more incentives are announced.