Electric transport is the future: cars, trucks, trains and buses that can run on clean solar and wind energy and slash rising transport emissions. Electric vehicles represent a significant opportunity to help decarbonise Australia’s transport sector - our third largest source of emissions. It would also reduce our dependence on oil, none of which is available in Australia. A thriving electric vehicle industry also presents opportunities for a revival of Australian manufacturing through domestic vehicles, particularly trucks and buses, and battery production. 

Consumer interest and confidence in electric vehicles is growing, but Australia is lagging behind other countries that are driving EV uptake with targeted policies. The Federal and State and Territory Governments have an important role to play in bringing down the barriers to Australia’s transition to cleaner cars. 

Solar Citizens suggests Federal, State and Territory Governments commit to the following policy recommendations: 

State and Territory Governments

1. Defer the introduction of new taxes or charges targeting electric vehicles, such as road user charges, until a target for EV sales has been reached. 

While the electric vehicle industry is still emerging, state and territory governments should refrain from introducing additional charges or taxes that disincentivise EV uptake.

Fuel excise revenue is expected to continue exceeding spending on road maintenance in the near term, and reduced revenue is largely not attributable to electric vehicles. As such, the introduction of charges to compensate for a reduction in fuel excise, such as road user charges, should be deferred until greater EV uptake is achieved; until 50% of new cars sold are electric vehicles. This target should be reassessed periodically to ensure its suitability towards the overall goal of electric vehicles accounting for 100% of new car sales. 

Any road user charge should be levied on all vehicles, not just EVs, and thereby achieve a range of public interest outcomes, particularly the reduction of congestion.

2. Provide financial incentives to improve the affordability and availability of electric vehicles. 

The biggest barrier for many Australians is the price of electric vehicles, which is a product of the limited range of models available. 

Six countries in the G7 have introduced purchase incentives to increase EV uptake - with Australia being the exception. To reach parity with these countries, states and territory governments should introduce purchase incentives equivalent to at least $10 000 for the years until an interim electric vehicle sales target of 50%  has been reached. 

This could be achieved through mechanisms such as upfront subsidies, cashback schemes, ICE vehicle trade-in rebates, or reductions or exemptions to existing charges such as registration and motor vehicle duty exemptions. There are also a range of energy incentives that could be made available - discounts on electricity bills, additional credits for people who own an EV and are installing solar or batteries, or shares in community owned renewable energy for those unable to install solar or batteries. 

3. Set a public target for Government fleet cars to be 100% electric vehicles by 2030. 

To help achieve a national electric vehicle sales target, state and territory governments should publicly set a target for all Government fleet vehicles to be electric vehicles by 2030. The higher turnover of Government fleet vehicles will also accelerate the introduction of cheaper second hand electric vehicles into the market.

4. Invest in policies to improve charging infrastructure and access. 

A significant barrier to electric vehicle uptake is charging access and consumer vehicle range anxiety. State and territory governments should implement measures to improve charging access and address gaps in charging infrastructure. 

Measures could include investing in more public fast and ultra-rapid charging stations, supporting workplace charging by providing subsidies or low-interest loans for homes and workplaces, making government charging infrastructure publicly accessible, reforming fringe benefits tax to allow employers to offer charging to employees without tax implications, reforming utility tariffs to support fast charging and mandating electric vehicle readiness for new building developments. 

5. Transition train, tram and bus fleets to renewable energy.

Introducing policies to procure electric buses and repower existing electric trains and trams with renewable energy offers a significant opportunity for state governments to reduce transport emissions.

With potential to manufacture zero emission electric buses locally and costs approaching parity with diesel alternatives, state governments should commit to policies to complete the electrification of bus fleets by 2030.

6. Support Australian electric vehicle and battery and charging infrastructure manufacturing. 

The emergence of an electric vehicle industry opens up significant opportunities for Australia to revive local manufacturing. Australia has a wealth of experience and expertise in vehicle manufacturing, and exciting new potential for local battery and charging infrastructure manufacturing. State and territory governments should capitalise on these opportunities afforded by the emerging electric vehicle industry and support the production of Australian-made electric vehicles and battery manufacturing.

The elements of a successful manufacturing strategy would include:

  1. Developing a national battery minerals strategy to ramp up supply 
  2. Developing local battery manufacturing capabilities; which will require incentives to attract local production. Once batteries are available locally, this would enable local vehicle manufacturing.
  3. Additionally, Australia can then also recycle batteries and feed this into the raw mineral supply chain, and local battery manufacturing. Batteries for recycling could be sourced from across Pacific and SE Asia as well as the domestic market.

Federal Government

1. Develop a comprehensive national electric vehicle strategy. 

The Federal Government should expand existing electric vehicle strategy beyond the limited scope of the Future Fuels Strategy and incorporate the below recommendations to develop a cohesive national strategy that supports state and territory strategies, and signals support for electric vehicles to the industry and consumers. 

2. Implement fuel efficiency standards, in line with global standards. 

Fuel emissions standards are considered to be the most effective measure to encourage electric vehicle uptake, but Australia is the only country in the OECD not to implement them. 

The Federal Government should introduce strict fuel efficiency standards, in line with global best practice, to significantly reduce emissions, encourage the phase out of ICE vehicles, and induce car manufacturers to introduce a greater variety of electric vehicles to the Australian market. 

3. Provide financial incentives to improve the affordability and availability of electric vehicles. 

The biggest barrier for many Australians is the price of electric vehicles, which is a product of the limited range of models available. 

Six countries in the G7 have introduced purchase incentives to increase EV uptake - with Australia being the exception. To reach parity with these countries, states and territory governments should introduce purchase incentives equivalent to at least $10 000 for the years until an interim electric vehicle sales target of 50%  has been reached. 

This could be achieved through mechanisms such as upfront subsidies, cashback schemes, ICE vehicle trade-in rebates, or reductions or exemptions to existing charges such as registration and motor vehicle duty exemptions. There are also a range of energy incentives that could be made available - discounts on electricity bills, additional credits for people who own an EV and are installing solar or batteries, or shares in community owned renewable energy for those unable to install solar or batteries. 

4. Set a national target for electric vehicle sales. 

To achieve net-zero emissions and stay below 1.5 degrees of warming, Australia must phase out ICE vehicles by 2050. To reach this target, Australia must be on track for 76% of new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2030, and 100% by no later than 2035 to allow for an expected average vehicle lifespan of 15-17 years.

To ensure Australia is able to safely reach these crucial targets, the Federal Government should set an ambitious target for 100% of new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2030. This target will also provide confidence to the industry and consumers that the Government is serious about supporting electric transport. 

5. Set a 100% electric vehicle target for Federal Government fleet cars. 

To help achieve a national electric vehicle sales target and stimulate the industry, the Federal Government should publicly set a target for 100% of Government fleet cars to be electric vehicles by 2030. The higher turnover of Government fleet vehicles will also accelerate the growth of a viable second hand market with cheaper electric vehicles.

6. Invest in policies to improve charging infrastructure and access.

A significant barrier to electric vehicle uptake is charging access and consumer vehicle range anxiety. The Federal Government should implement measures to improve charging access and address gaps in national charging infrastructure. 

Measures could include investing in more public fast and ultra-rapid charging stations, providing subsidies or low-interest loans for home and workplace charging installations, making government charging infrastructure publicly accessible, and mandating electric vehicle readiness for new building developments. 

7. Support Australian electric vehicle and battery manufacturing. 

The emergence of an electric vehicle industry opens up significant opportunities for Australia to revive local manufacturing. Australia has a wealth of experience and expertise in car manufacturing, and exciting new potential for local battery manufacturing. The Federal Government should capitalise on these opportunities afforded by the emerging electric vehicle industry and support the production of Australian-made electric vehicles and battery manufacturing. 

Local Government

1. Transition vehicle fleets to electric.

With capacity to factor in the lifetime cost of vehicles, councils are well-positioned to lead the EV transition by embracing electric alternatives that are already cost competitive.

Committing to procure zero emission cars and commercial vehicles provides a pathway for councils to reduce emissions and also benefit from lower operational and maintenance costs.

2. Mandate EV chargers in new developments.

New residential and commercial developments can be required to include EV charging points to provide at-home charging options for motorists without access to off-street parking.