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SA in line to be first state to offer EV incentives

The i’s have it: BMW’s i3 will become more affordable under the South Australian Labor government’s proposal to offer five years free registration, as well as no stamp duty charge, to electric vehicles.

SA Labor promises five-years free rego and no stamp duty on EVs if re-elected

23 Feb 2018

SOUTH Australia’s Labor government could be the first in the country to offer financial incentives for full-electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to encourage buyer take-up if re-elected in the state election scheduled for March 17.

Under the proposed scheme, stamp duty fees and registration costs over five years would be waived for buyers of new EVs in SA, which could net up to $3755 in savings over a half-decade period for vehicles costing $80,000.

Customers buying an EV that costs $40,000 would save $2155, while $60,000 vehicles would yield a $2955 saving.

However, drivers will still need to shell out for other dealer delivery fees including compulsory third-party insurance, administration costs and SA’s Lifetime Support Scheme levy.

While no other Australian government – state or federal – has proposed the introduction of EV incentives, Electric Vehicle Council CEO Behyad Jafari said he hoped other regions would follow South Australia’s lead.

“Throughout last year we’ve been working with every state, territory and federal government on developing their response to the transition that is happening in the automotive space,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of interest there, a lot of … working out precisely what they will do, and now we’ve got a new benchmark in South Australia hitting it right on the head by providing some short-term financial incentives.

“It’s quite helpful for us to have, really, what is the gold standard response to electric vehicles.”

While the EV financial incentives are currently only offered on a state level, Mr Jafari said more could be done at the federal level.

“It should absolutely be driven at a national level,” he said. “What we’ve got here is the case of the state doing the work in the absence of any of that national co-ordination, and national leadership, that we should have in this area.

“But at the same time, at the beginning of this year, we had the federal minister come out and recognise that this is an area he should be focusing on more, and we’re working through this process with him now as well.

“But certainly having the states not waiting and getting on with it is helpful because, as you know, we’re already quite a way behind, there’s no more time to waste.”

Earlier this year, federal minister for environment and energy Josh Frydenberg called for more co-operation between state and federal governments to better prepare Australia for the expected influx of EVs.

“A global revolution in electric vehicles is under way and with the right preparation, planning and policies, Australian consumers are set to be the big beneficiaries,” he said in January.

However, no proposed EV plans have yet been announced by the federal government.

A number of other countries including Norway, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Thailand have pushed for the adoption of EVs by cutting vehicle taxes, exempting vehicles from road tolls and allowing the use of bus lanes for electric cars.

Although Mr Jafari would not be drawn on which, if any, of the other states or territories he expects would be next to follow South Australia’s lead, he said “this is a wakeup call for all governments across Australia”.

“There were some announcements last year from Queensland, Victoria has a parliamentary inquiry on at the moment where we’ve been making exactly the same points to them about what they should do about electric vehicles,” he said.

“At the same time, in terms of the work that we’re doing in the electric vehicle council, we have a process underway with every state and territory government and commonwealth government to do something similar.

“It’s just a matter of, especially now we’ve got the first one past the gate, how quickly can everyone else get up to speed.”

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has also thrown its weight behind the proposal, but chief executive Tony Weber said EV technology should not be singled out as the only means to reducing national tail-pipe emissions.

“The industry’s view is that EVs, together with hybrids, hydrogen vehicles and the new generation of more efficient low emission combustion-engined cars, need to be part of the broad make-up of the national new vehicle fleet in the next decade,” he said.

“While governments have a significant role to play in encouraging a shifting in consumer behaviour, the industry believes in the need for freedom of consumer choice and in market diversity.

“We don’t intend to favour one vehicle technology over another because we know the huge amount of research being done around the world on future transport technologies.”

With its headquarters in South Australia, Mitsubishi Motors Australia (MMAL) CEO John Signoriello also threw the Japanese car-maker’s weight behind the financial incentives for EVs.

“The South Australian Labor government is showing leadership in developing a sustainable future transport industry and we applaud this proactive approach to the challenges of developing a viable electric vehicle market in Australia,” he said.

Other brands which have come out in support of the idea include Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Audi and BMW, while Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Michael Bartsch has gone on record and called incentives “wrong” and that the market will become artificially distorted by the enticements.

At present, only a handful of vehicles would qualify for the incentives including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, BMW i3, Audi A3 e-tron, Renault Zoe, Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, Volvo XC90 T8, Tesla Model S and Model X, and Mercedes-Benz E350e, with the Nissan Leaf expected to land later this year.

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