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ALP proposes sweeping national EV strategy

FCAI, EVC support ALP’s strategy to slash carbon emissions, stimulate EV uptake

7 Dec 2021

IN THE run-up to the federal election, expected to take place in the first half of 2022, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has pledged to roll out the country’s first national electric vehicle strategy under its broader ‘Powering Australia Plan’ if elected.


The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) acknowledged that the direction for electric vehicle support and vehicle emissions outlined in the ALP’s Powering Australia Plan was “a step forward in the policy discussion around lowering vehicle emissions”.


Meanwhile, Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) chief executive Behyad Jafari said Labor’s plan for a National Electric Vehicle Strategy was well overdue and that the EVC was “ready and eager” to support its development.


However, there is no mention of an emissions target for vehicles in the ALP’s pledge, which some see as a missed opportunity to address a criticism of the Morrison government’s Future Fuels Strategy that was announced last month.


FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said a vehicle CO2 emissions standard “would send an even stronger signal” to global car-makers that Australia was a viable market for EVs and “increase the choice of low emission vehicles available in our market, which, in turn, increases the adoption of electrified vehicles available to customers”.


The Powering Australia Plan, which, in line with bipartisan pledges to reduce the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050, incorporates policy measures for key sectors of the economy comprising electricity, transport, industry and carbon farming.


As part of the national EV strategy, an electric car discount would be implemented to make electric vehicles more affordable by scrapping the five per cent import tariffs and 47 per cent Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) from low-emissions vehicles priced below the Luxury Car Tax (LCT) threshold (which in the 2021-22 financial year is $79,659 for vehicles deemed fuel-efficient).


Mr Jafari welcomed the shift in the debate to how to embrace the future of electric vehicles in Australia. 


“Making it easier for Australians to make the switch through discounts will help us catch up to the rest of the world,” he said.


Furthermore, the ALP proposed to work with states and territories to expand EV charging infrastructure on federally funded infrastructure projects (such as road network upgrades), consult with industry to review the National Construction Code and ensure City Deals encouraged the provision of home and public EV charging facilities wherever possible. 


Also put forward was the establishment of a real-world vehicle testing program to ensure Australians would be less likely to foot higher fuel costs than the advertised efficiency of their vehicles, policy settings to encourage local manufacturing of electric car components – especially batteries – and ways to address the policy implications of declining fuel excise.


To this, Mr Weber responded that the FCAI was “keen to ensure future federal governments maintain a focus on improving fuel quality and a progression towards Euro 6 emissions standards”.


The ALP claims that if it is elected and the EV strategy is successful, EV sales could increase by 600,000 vehicles (208 per cent) above government projections in 2030, raising the EV market share from 29 per cent to 89 per cent of new car sales by the end of this decade and EVs making up 15 per cent of all vehicles on Australian roads by 2030.


With a projected 2.15 million more EVs on the road in 2030, the strategy would stimulate the creation of up to 5960 new jobs via sales as well as charging infrastructure development, plus opportunities to develop new manufacturing jobs specialising in batteries, EV components or charging infrastructure technologies, according to the ALP modelling.


Another 16,500 indirect jobs were forecast to be created through the manufacture and installation of charging infrastructure, it says.


Mr Jafari urged industry consultation and collaboration on government EV policy, describing it as “critical in creating a plan that maximises the enormous benefits of electric vehicles”.


“Australia should be building batteries and electric vehicles, but we have so far been let down by a lack of ambition at a federal level. Left unchecked, these manufacturing opportunities and their associated jobs will go elsewhere.” 


Mr Weber praised the ALP for “continuing to generate meaningful discussion about increasing low-emission vehicles on our roads and the improvement to our national environmental performance, customer choice and communities”.


“Australia is lagging the rest of the world when it comes to a long-term vision for the continued penetration of low emission vehicles,” he said.


“The automotive sector has seen around the world that strong signals around targets, good infrastructure policy and incentives from national governments contribute to positive outcomes on low emission vehicle introduction.”

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