Electric cars in the fast lane

Katina Curtis
(Australian Associated Press)

Car yards across the country would be emptied of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 under a new Greens policy to transform Australia’s transport.

The minor party wants to completely phase out sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, with a transitional mandate for a proportion of new vehicle sales to be electric cars over the next five years.

To encourage more people to buy them, the Greens’ new transport policy, released on Tuesday, advocates cutting a range of taxes on zero-emissions vehicles including the GST, stamp duty and three years of registration – while imposing a new 17 per cent “luxury fossil fuel” tax on petrol and diesel cars costing more than $65,000.

Up to $151 million in grants would be made available to install more fast-charging stations, which could refill a car’s battery in under half an hour, and tough new emissions standards would apply to all vehicles.

These measures are similar to moves announced overseas, including the UK, France, and Norway.

“The electric vehicle revolution is unstoppable and Australians should have the opportunity to embrace this global shift to electric vehicles, not get left behind,” Greens transport spokeswoman Janet Rice said.

“Without action the big global car corporations will use Australia as their dumping ground for the most polluting cars as the rest of the world moves on.”

The party’s climate change spokesman, Adam Bandt, described the policy as the “quantum leap” Australia needed to cut emissions and stop people dying from air pollution.

The federal government’s 2017 review of climate change policies said there are just 4000 electric and hybrid vehicles registered in Australia now, about a quarter of them Teslas.

Electric vehicles make up about 0.1 per cent of new car sales each year, which is predicted to lift to 0.3 per cent by 2020 and 15 per cent by 2030.

The Greens say the take-up needs to happen faster, saying manufacturers must have electric cars making up two per cent of their annual sales by 2020 and 10 per cent by 2022.

Norway is phasing out sales of new combustion engine cars by 2025, while India and the Netherlands will do so by 2030 and the UK and France by 2040.

Several major car makers including Volvo, General Motors and Volkswagen have announce ambitious plans for electric vehicle manufacturing and sales.

In January, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the electric vehicle revolution was nigh and likened it to the iPhone’s introduction.


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