The federal government has ruled out subsidising private electric vehicle (EV) purchases – however, it may incentivise businesses to invest in zero-emission fleets.
The 40-page Future Fuels Strategy discussion paper – published today – outlines the Federal Government’s automotive policy platform, and suggests a focus will be placed on “enabling consumer choice, stimulating industry development, and reducing emissions in the road transport sector.”
"Fleets are an effective pathway for early adoption of new vehicle technologies," the publication notes.
"Uptake in fleet vehicles can help all Australians become more familiar with new technologies. For instance, many Australians’s first experience with a hybrid vehicle was in a taxi or company vehicle, and they are now becoming increasingly popular with private purchasers," it continues.
"Fleet purchasing could also stimulate the second hand market for new vehicle technologies. Businesses generally replace vehicles on a more regular basis than private buyers, which in turn provides a supply of vehicles to the second hand market at lower prices."
The document argues bolstering private electric-car uptake through taxpayer-funded subsidies would be an inefficient and ineffective way to reduce emissions.
Instead, the report said, a primary focus will be placed on "expanding charging infrastructure, promoting adoption of commercial fleets, increasing battery integration, supporting manufacturing, and improving public education."
Tony Weber – chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) – told CarAdvice he believed the discussion paper represented a "step in the right direction."
In an official statement, the FCAI said: “The announcement presents a strong position with regards to the government desire to let the market determine the direction and uptake of new technology while supporting its growth through investment in infrastructure and the removal of any barriers that discourage vehicle technology development and adoption.”
The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) – which represents more than 7 million motorists as the peak body for motoring clubs such as the NRMA, RACV and RACQ – said: “[the Future Fuels Strategy] outlines a sensible principles-based approach, and five priority areas of activity capable of driving uptake of electric and other zero and low emission vehicles in Australia.”
However, Behyad Jafari – chief executive of Australia’s Electric Vehicle Council – told CarAdvice the proposal was "very disappointing."
"This paper effectively says the government should just do nothing – as a result, that’s exactly what will happen ... nothing.”
"Every other major country subsidises electric vehicles, so it’s pretty shocking the minister seems to think he knows better, and it's everyone else who is wrong."
According to the most recent VFACTS report, sales of electric vehicles (not including Tesla, which does not supply figures) increased 146.6 per cent year-on-year in January 2021, with 296 cars reported as sold in the month compared to just 120 12 months earlier.
This figure represents just 0.3 per cent of all new cars sold for January 2021, the same as last year.
CarAdvice has approached a Federal Government spokesperson for further comment – this story will be updated with their response.
You can read the full Future Fuels Strategy discussion paper here.
To have your say on electric vehicle policy and uptake you can submit an offical response to the discussion paper here.