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BMW seeks $10k break for EV, hybrid owners

Kick-starter: BMW Australia says it is high time governments subsidised electrified vehicles here to stimulate interest.

Luxury car-maker BMW wants governments to get behind fuel-efficient technology

14 Apr 2014

BMW Australia is seeking up to $10,000 worth of incentives for electric and hybrid car buyers as it works to get government backing for fuel-efficient technologies.

The luxury car-maker’s Australian managing director, Phil Horton, said last week he was in talks with local, state and federal government in an attempt to get British-style incentives for hybrid and electric car buyers to help boost sales of the vehicles.

“In the UK, buyers get about $10,000 worth of (government) incentives if they buy a hybrid car,” Mr Horton said.

“That’s what I’d like to see here in Australia,” he said.

Mr Horton said BMW was even talking to toll road owners to see if financial incentives could be added to its battery-powered i3 city hatchback ahead of its launch later this year.

The i3 will launch in Australia in November, priced from $63,900, with another $6000 added to the price tag if buyers wish to equip it with a range-extending 650cc two-cylinder motorcycle engine that doubles the car’s range to about 300km.

BMW’s demand for a mix of financial support and other incentives for EV and hybrid vehicle owners, first sounded in August last year, follows a number of similar calls from manufacturers with electric or hybrid cars on sale in Australia including Honda, Renault, Holden and Mitsubishi.

Mercedes-Benz has called on the federal government to dump the unpopular luxury car tax, which raises about $400 million a year, in favour of levelling the new-car playing field once Australia’s three car-makers – Ford, Holden and Toyota – quit manufacturing by the end of 2017.

However, Mr Horton would not say if providing taxpayer incentives for vehicles that only more affluent buyers could afford was the best use of the governments’ money.

“That’s a very good question,” he said.

In the first three months of this year only 62 electric vehicles have been sold, compared with 292 sold last year.

In contrast, about 2700 hybrid vehicles have sold in the first three months of this year, with more than 11,000 sold last year.

The equivalent of a $10,000 incentive on each hybrid or electric car sold last year would have cost about $110 million to support, or roughly half the cost of backing the next-generation Cruze program that Holden had planned to build from 2017.

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