Ambitious plans by the Andrews Government to boost sales of zero emissions vehicles to 50 per cent of the market by 2030 have sparked a swift response from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

Victoria will provide 20,000 subsidies of up to $3000 each to buyers of electric vehicles (EVs) under $69,000, as part of a $100 million plan to encourage take up of EVs.

This is the same Government that wants to charge 2.5 cent/km charge for electric and other zero-emission vehicles to use the road, including hydrogen vehicles, and a 2.0 cent/km for plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles — to make up got lost fuel excise tax.

FCAI has welcomed the incentives, but warns the Victorian Government not to lose sight of the real goal — that’s reducing CO2 emissions.

“Governments should focus on CO2 emissions targets rather than mandating specific technologies,” FCAI boss Tony Weber said.

“If governments set the targets, the carmakers will deliver the range of vehicles into the market that achieve environmental outcomes and meet the needs of Australian motorists.

“We have already come a long way and we believe these issues can be resolved.”

FCAI represents companies that distribute new passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in Australia.

With 68 brands offering 380 models, sold and serviced by almost 4000 dealers, Australia’s automotive sector is a large employer and contributor to the economy, lifestyle and communities big and small.

Mr Weber said the FCAI looked forward to developing more policy through the Victorian Government’s expert advisory panel, to ensure that achievable, practical and innovative long-term strategies are in place to meet long-term, shared objectives for CO2 emissions reduction.

“The actions taken by the Victorian Government highlighted that the Federal Government risked missing an opportunity to provide leadership and policy direction on the increased take-up of Zero and Low Emissions Vehicles (ZLEVs).

“The FCAI has consistently advocated for a national approach to these issues that ideally would be Federally-led to avoid the prospect of individual State Governments introducing their own standards and incentive programs in support of ZLEVs.

“Consistency is the critical element for Australian customers. If other States introduce their own programs, they must align. Otherwise, the result will be another disjointed and chaotic system like the introduction of different rail gauges across the country.”

As part of the Government’s plans, the state will spend $19 million on new charging stations and another $10 million to add 400 vehicles to its fleet of EVs over the next two years.

Mr Weber said that the FCAI supported introduction of sensible and achievable CO2 emissions targets that allowed customers to choose the vehicles and technology they wanted to suit their personal and commercial needs.

He also noted the incentives announced by the Victorian Government specifically supporting electric vehicles.

“The incentives package for electric vehicles is consistent with actions being taken by governments across the world,” he said.

“However, it does bring into question the decision of the Victorian Government to also introduce legislation that targets a road user charge on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

“Road user charging decisions should not be based around specific technologies and particularly those that are in their relative infancy in the Australian market.

“An efficient road user charging scheme can address all vehicle users regardless of the type of vehicle they drive, how often it is driven and the purpose of the travel.

“The FCAI will be keen to work with the Victorian and other governments to explore the benefits to the broad-based tax and vehicle charging reform,” Mr Weber said.

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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