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Bowser pain renews charge towards electric vehicles

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Record petrol and diesel prices could force Australian drivers to redo their calculations on electric vehicles.

Electric Vehicle Council CEO Behyad Jafari says consumers often underestimate the running costs of combustion engine cars compared with electric vehicles, when weighing up the upfront and other costs.

“Now it’s much more in their face,” he said.

State and territory governments are already driving various electric vehicle (EV) policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions, with transport ranked as Australia’s second-largest source of pollution.

South Australia will soon repeal its electric vehicle tax under the incoming Labor government, leaving Victoria as the only state with a per kilometre charge.

Queensland says it has gone “full throttle” with a $3000 subsidy to buy a new EV, and $10 million for more charging stations.

New South Wales has a new incentive program in the works for businesses thinking about an electric fleet.

Australia’s peak motoring body on Monday launched a campaign to put transport at the centre of the 2022 federal election and COVID-19 recovery, including more spending on the charging network and grid readiness.

Volatile international oil markets have added fresh impetus to consider going electric as fuel prices spike well above $2 a litre, and even higher in the regions.

Critics say subsidies for EVs support well-heeled Australians who can afford a new luxury car.

But Mr Jafari sees these buyers as essential to getting the vehicles into the used car market in the years ahead.

“The reality is low-income buyers are buying second-hand cars that are available to them,” he said.

“Those are usually cars that cost a lot to run and use a lot more petrol.”

State and territory government electric fleets will also turn over in time, putting more vehicles into the market.

And while the “middle class and above” description may have fitted early adopters, EV demand is now going mainstream with buyers looking beyond the snob value of a Tesla to cars such as the Nissan LEAF.

Making it hard to navigate, especially for business buyers, incentives to switch are different in each jurisdiction.

National fuel efficiency standards could be advantageous in the long term, but have been in the too-hard basket at the federal level.

“Due to their own infighting on climate issues, they decided not to act on it,” Mr Jafari said.

Motorists know governments need revenue, and some see congestion charges as a better alternative than a tax that charges EV drivers for every kilometre.

A fee paid by drivers when entering choked roads in major cities has been backed by the Grattan Institute.

But officials know congestion taxes are politically difficult to introduce.

Some premiers, and federal MPs, have called for immediate cuts to the 44 cents per litre fuel excise to tackle cost-of-living pressures in the short term.

The Morrison government says the fuel excise is needed to pay for roads.

But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hasn’t ruled out a popular cut in next week’s federal budget, just weeks out from a federal election.

The next step up for EVs is so-called bi-directional charging, or vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

Once installed, your electric vehicle can act as a home battery, storing energy that can be used to power your home or sold to the grid – timed for the best price.

-AAP

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