The average new vehicle is on the road in Australia for between 15 and 20 years, depending on who you ask.
So, if we’re planning to get to net zero emissions by 2050, close to 100% of new car sales in Australia must be electric by the early 2030s. Transport accounts for 19% of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Without any government intervention, it’s likely that just 27% of new car sales will be electric in 2030. But plenty of other countries (like New Zealand) have set, and look likely to achieve, much more ambitious targets, and Australia’s politicians have plans too.
So: how do Australian parties’ electric vehicle policies stack up, and what can we expect after the upcoming Australian election?
Three federal parties – the Liberal-National Coalition (LNP), the Labor Party, and the Greens have produced costed national policies for electric vehicle (EV) uptake.
Here, Cosmos breaks down the targets, subsidies, and infrastructure plans for each party.
The LNP’s electric vehicle strategy
The Federal Coalition announced a Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy in November last year, detailing how they intended to increase electric vehicle uptake.
This includes a target of 30% new vehicle sales being electric by 2030 – slightly higher than the amount it will likely rise to anyway.
There’s also a $250 million Future Fuels Fund, primarily focussed on increasing charging infrastructure in partnership with state governments.
The Coalition is continuing to allow low-interest loans to businesses for low and zero-emissions vehicles. Commercial vehicles are 40% of new car sales in Australia, and typically travel further than private vehicles.
The plan also includes provision of information and signage about electric cars, to normalise EVs in the public eye and address “range anxiety” – the perception that you can’t travel as far with an EV as you can with a conventional car. Increasing commercial vehicle uptake also has this effect, because it lets people “test” cars by driving them for work without having to purchase one themselves.
The LNP does not have any immediate plans to introduce mandates on importing electric vehicles. Common overseas, these rules penalise manufacturers for selling too many polluting cars in a country, incentivising them to sell electric vehicles instead. Countries that don’t have strict emissions standards, like Australia, then become recipients of heavier-emissions vehicles. This means there are currently more Australians who want to buy EVs, than there are EVs available – because an electric vehicle will make a manufacturer more money if sold elsewhere.
Much of the world, including China, India, the US and Japan, have emissions standards modelled on Europe’s Euro 6 standards – but while the government’s Climate Change Authority has recommended introducing rules like these by 2025, the government hasn’t committed to it.
The Labor Party’s electric vehicle strategy
The Labor Party took a 50% new-EV strategy by 2030 to the 2019 election, and dropped it afterwards.
To this one, rather than a specific target, they’re bringing a subsidy: the Labor Party plans to exempt electric cars from import tariffs and fringe benefits taxes from the middle of this year.
Its proposed plan includes developing a strategy to increase infrastructure for electric cars, and encourage local manufacture of parts for electric cars or whole cars. The infrastructure plan comes with a target of EV charging stations an average of 150 km apart on major roads. This will come from a $500 million “driving the nation” fund.
The Labor Party also plans to phase in the Climate Change Authority’s suggested 2025 emissions standards.
The Greens’ electric vehicle strategy
While they currently hold just one seat in the House of Representatives, the Greens are the only party with an electric vehicle policy that’s consistent with net zero emissions by 2050.
The Greens have adopted a target of 100% new EV sales by 2030. To meet this target, the party is proposing dropping import tariffs, GST, stamp duty, and three years of registration fees for all new electric vehicles. This would be subsidised by an additional 17% luxury car tax on all fossil fuel light vehicles over $65,000, in addition to the existing luxury car tax.
It’s also suggesting a $151 million fund for public EV charging infrastructure, with fast charging stations prioritised.
Finally, the Greens are planning to implement the Climate Change Authority’s emissions standards this year, and require manufacturers to sell an increasing proportion of EVs each year.
Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.
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