The federal government is “far behind the curve” on cutting dangerous vehicle pollution and should scrap registration fees and other upfront costs for electric vehicles, a national body representing some of the world’s biggest car makers says.
It comes amid calls for the Turnbull government to release a long overdue plan to cut vehicle emissions in , two years after public consultation began.
Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg on Saturday declared the global electric car revolution was coming to , but stopped short of committing to more federal government action to support the industry’s growth.
He said there were 4000 electric vehicles on the nation’s roads, equating to a tiny 0.1 per cent of new vehicle sales. In Norway electric vehicles make up more than 20 per cent of new sales.
Electric Vehicle Council of chief executive Behyad Jafari said the government must subsidise the upfront purchase cost of electric cars to encourage their uptake.
The council represents electric vehicle makers such as Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Nissan, as well as energy giants including AGL and Origin.
Mr Jafari said exemptions to vehicle registration and stamp duty, as well as fringe benefit and luxury car taxes, could cut upfront costs by about $7000.
“[There is] certainly a need for governments to intervene in the market and … direct the market towards better outcomes,” he said.
“We need something in the short term to really jump start the market.”
Mr Jafari said such support would only be required until uptake reached about five per cent – enough to encourage more investment such as new charging infrastructure and the availability of lower-cost models of electric cars.
A Turnbull government ministerial forum established in October 2015 has been considering how to cut vehicle emissions, but is yet to release a draft implementation plan due in March last year.
Advocates say measures such as mandatory vehicle emissions standards would kickstart electric vehicle sales.
Mr Jafari said 80 per cent of the global market had fuel efficiency standards and was “far behind the curve”.
“It’s certainly taken much longer than we would have hoped. We would like to see a recommendation be implemented as soon as possible so we can start preparing for the next part, which is additional support for electric vehicles,” he said.
Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher on Monday said an upcoming review into road user charging would consider how electric vehicle drivers, who do not pay fuel excise, could contribute more to road funding.
He rejected suggestions this meant motorists who embraced low-emission technology would be slugged with an extra charge, saying the road funding system must remain “sustainable” as electric car uptake increased.
Labor’s climate change and energy spokesman Mark Butler said there was a “complete lack of policy from the Turnbull government to cut pollution in transport and help motorists with the rising costs of fuel”.
“If they were serious about tackling climate change, carbon pollution wouldn’t be rising and projected to keep rising to 2030,” he said.
Michael Lord, head of research at advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions, said about 8 per cent of ‘s greenhouse gas emissions were produced by cars.
“They can all be electrified, and that could be cost-neutral for ,” he said.
Governments could provide more roadside charging stations, or require that new buildings have the infrastructure installed, he said.