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BMW applauds SA EV election promise

Cap: BMW Australia CEO says the South Australian Labor election promise is a positive move, but it was just the beginning.

SA move positive, but BMW boss reiterates calls for much more to be done

1 Mar 2018

BMW Group Australia CEO Marc Werner has applauded an election promise by the South Australian Labor party to would waive all stamp duty and five years’ worth of registration on all new zero-emission and electric vehicles if it is re-elected on March 17.

Coming less than a fortnight after calling out the Australian federal government for its “short sighted” attitude to electric vehicles, Mr Werner said that much more needed to be done, but added that the statement was a positive way to normalise EVs in Australia.

He said that some form of carbon tax would be introduced in the not-too-distant future, in line with Europe and other markets around the world, that would help drive EV sales.

“You’ve all heard my repeated calls for the Australian government to wake up and smell the electricity, and we’ve all had long debates about EVs and their suitability for the Australian market for a number of reasons,” Mr Werner told journalists at the X2 compact SUV launch in Canberra this week.

“But I think we’ve reached a watershed moment in the Australian EV landscape and I think this movement is carrying momentum. A change is definitely in the air. In January, the honourable Josh Frydenberg, (federal) minister for energy, wrote an opinion piece citing that he expects to see EV take-up increase dramatically, with a million EVs on the roads in Australia by 2030.

“And just last Friday, the honourable Ian Hunter, announced that if re-elected, the South Australian government will exempt EVs from stamp duty and registration costs for five years. He stated the SA government would also continue lobby the federal government to take further action on supporting the transition to EVs.

“And Mr Hunter related the fact that we have all known for a very long time, that providing a short-term tax exemption to reduce the upfront costs of EVs is a key driver in transitioning to the technology. This has been the experience of every market that has successfully started the transition and transformation to electric mobility.

“Taking this action in Australia puts our economy in the driver’s seat to encourage investment and job creation in the future of mobility. And best of all, Mr Hunter encouraged other state and travel department to get behind the news.”

Despite his positive comments, Mr Werner added that governments at all levels in Australia are well behind much of the developed world when it comes to electrification in general and EVs in particular.

“It is very positive to finally see some momentum in that space, and so we are very pleased there is more activity and certainly we are emphasising on further support in order to get this kind of technology into the market, whatever that kind of support would actually look like,” he said.

“(But) from our perspective, it is very clear that there needs to be a 360-degree approach from the government. It cannot just be incentives, it needs to be much more, something around infrastructure, it needs to be something around free parking for example and the like, and in order to really support this kind of movement.

“We have been dealing very closely with the EV Council on this, and we believe this is the right way to approach it, because we have to do it as an industry.

It cannot be BMW alone.”

Mr Werner said he believed that car-makers’ calls for extra support over the years were finally being acted upon, especially now something like a carbon tax is more likely.

“We are being heard,” he said. “If you look at the most recent announcements from the government, as well as the activities on various state-wide bases, there’s certainly movement and momentum, and we will continue with our activities that we’ve done over the past few weeks and months.

“I believe even in Australia we will have a carbon tax target coming sooner than later – it is a question of legislation we all know that governments change here in every one and a half to two and a half years, and probably (BMW) is taking more a visionary approach than other (car-makers).

“But having said that, consumers have to decide at the end of the day… they have to be convinced by this kind of technology, and the consumer has to decide at the point of sale whether he wants to go for a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV.” Mr Werner concluded by promising that BMW would continue to support EVs in Australia and not pull out, even if the government continues to do nothing.

“BMW is committed to EVs for Australia,” he said. “It is a sustainable strategy – it is not like turning the tap on and then turning the tap off. That would also be unfair to the consumer… but it is the consumer’s choice for what kind of drivetrain technology the customer wants to go for.

“At least there is some discussion (on electrification and EV incentives)… this wasn’t the case some months ago.”

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