Strong financial incentives exist for electric cars in Europe and the USA, but Australian buyers pay full price for the emerging technology.
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Australian buyers pay substantially more for electric cars than motorists in Europe and the US, where generous government subsidies and strict emissions targets have forced prices down.

While the financial incentives to purchase electric vehicles overseas can equate to as much as €12,000 ($AU20,000) per car, buyers in Australia get little to no taxpayer assistance.

Critics of electric cars say battery-powered vehicles already have an advantage in Australia – by avoiding fuel excise, a significant portion of which goes towards roads.

However, in global terms, the incentives in Australia are comparatively miniscule.

The Australian Capital Territory waives stamp duty and gives a 20 per cent discount on registration for electric cars.

For example, when buying a $48,970 Hyundai Ioniq, a customer in the nation's capital would save approximately $1,535 purchasing this electric car versus a vehicle with a conventional petrol engine at the same price.

Victoria exempts electric cars from the “luxury vehicle” rate of stamp duty and provides a $100 annual discount on vehicle registration.

This represents the most significant overall financial incentive package for electric cars nationwide, however savings are only applicable if the vehicle being purchased is above the LCT threshold (currently set at $77,565 for fuel efficient vehicles).

For example, a Victorian buyer saves just $100 on a $47,490 Renault Zoe, however, on a $120,000 Tesla, a saving of roughly $17,416 is possible.

In Queensland electric and hybrid vehicles pay a lower stamp duty of 2 per cent.

A buyer of a $49,990 Nissan Leaf in Queensland would save about $500 in stamp duty (compared to a four cylinder vehicle, which would have a registration duty rate of 3 per cent).

New South Wales also provides a small discount on registration costs for electric and hybrid vehicles, allowing them to be taxed under a lower weight classification.

South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Tasmania currently do not offer incentives for electric cars.

Comparatively, the US Federal Government offers up to $7500 in consumer tax breaks (for the first 200,000 vehicles a carmaker sells), and there are many further state-based programs to incentivise electric cars.

Many European countries have also recently expanded already-existing incentive programs that make electric cars often directly competitive on price with comparable petrol or diesel cars.

In some cases these subsidies have driven prices down to almost zero.

According to the website of German dealership Autohaus Koenig, the 24 monthly instalments of €125 they charge to rent a Renault Zoe are entirely offset by the “state subsidy for environmental bonus, innovation bonus and AVAS.”

Therefore, the car can effectively be leased for ‘free’ (although other costs such as insurance are associated with the deal).

The same car retails from $47,490 (plus on road costs) in Australia.

Similarly, reports German customers can bring home the Mini Cooper Electric for as little as $43.50 per week - Roughly a quarter of the minimum weekly payment plan in Australia.

While there is no explicit requirement for EU member states to offer subsidies or tax incentives for electric cars, Lithuania is currently the only country in the bloc that does not do so.

The 26 EU countries which have introduced policies aimed at increasing electric vehicle sales all differ in their approach.

Twenty EU countries provide direct payment incentives to buyers of electric cars. These countries are Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Six do not provide direct payment incentives, but grant tax reductions and exemptions. These countries are Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia, and Malta.

Norway, which is not a member country of the EU, has generated some of the highest levels of success at shifting consumers towards electric vehicles.

Norway does not subsidise electric cars, but instead waives the 25 per cent VAT and other vehicle on-road taxes applied to petrol and diesel vehicles.

Of all new cars sold in Norway during 2019, 42.4 per cent were fully electric.

Conversely, just 0.6 per cent of cars sold in Australia over the same period were powered solely by electricity.

In 2019 electric cars represented 3.8 per cent of sales in Europe, 4.7 per cent in China, and just over 2 per cent in the USA.

A 2020 study by tracked the price of the new Nissan Leaf in different countries around the world.

It found that in Spain the car cost the local equivalent of $US28,620, in Norway the car cost the local equivalent of $US31,439, and in the USA it cost $US31,600.

In Australia it cost the local equivalent of $US36,843 ($AU54,502).