The Australian Labor Party has unveiled its first electric vehicle policy, setting a 50 per cent target for EVs as a share of new passenger vehicle sales by 2030, and for government fleets by 2025.
The Labor policy, unveiled at the start of a week that will include the federal budget and likely conclude with a confirmed date for a May election, is the first by either of a major party to address EVs, and will go some way to rectifying Australia’s laggard status in the uptake of EVS.
“Cleaner cars and transport aren’t just good for the environment – they are cheaper to run,” Labor said in its policy statement, which also accompanies confirmation of its 50 per cent renewable energy targets, its 45 per cent emissions reduction target, and a broadening of what is effectively a baseline and credit scheme.
“But Australia lags behind our competitor countries, whether it’s in electric vehicle take-up, or vehicle fuel efficiency. We have ten times lower electric vehicle take-up than the global average, and we’re at risk of being left behind.”
The target compares with the Coalition’s promise of some sort of EV policy, but the Coalition has also refused to say what that might policy look like until the middle of next year.
The Greens on the other hand, last week unveiled a policy that calls for 100 per cent share of EVs in new light passenger vehicle sales by 2030, effectively banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars beyond that point.
Many European countries have already made similar commitments, and while Labor’s target may seem ambitious, it seems difficult to imagine how they would not be met if EVs reach price parity in the next five years or so as many analysts and people in the industry predict.
The policy document, however, was warmly embraced by most analysts and industry groups, as Bridie Schmidt reports here.
The Labor policy document notes that transport emissions make up almost 20 per cent of Australia’s emissions and are a fast growing source of pollution – recent data showed that diesel emissions were rising as other emissions, particularly electricity, were continuing to fall as more renewables enter the system.
Labor says having an EV target will support a local industry, generate more jobs and help consumers make the switch.
It will also plug into great consumer enthusiasm for EVs, with some reports, and surveys, suggesting the slump in petrol and diesel sales is because many customers are holding off new purchases, waiting for lower prices EV models.
“The global transition to electric vehicles is well underway, but the Liberals’ failure to deliver credible climate change and electric vehicle policies means Australia is now last among western counties for electric vehicle uptake,” it says.
It notes that New Zealand has higher electric vehicle sales than Australia, which is helped by a national target. Some analysts expect that country to reach 100 per cent EV sales by 2030.
The government fleet target of 50 per cent of new purchases and leases of passenger vehicles by 2025 – is more ambitious than the recommendations of independent Senator Tim Storer following the Senate’s EV inquiry.
“This government fleet target will send a strong signal to the global industry that we expect cost competitive vehicles to be available for the Australian market. Government electric vehicle fleets will also be important in developing a second hand market,” it says.
“Labor will work towards requiring all Commonwealth‑owned-and-leased office buildings to include the provision of charging infrastructure where appropriate.”
Labor – and the Coalition – refused to endorse those recommendations, much to the chagrin of Storer, other independent senators and The Greens – but it appears to be due to reasons around their own timetable and political positioning.
Labor says it will also look at requiring all Commonwealth‑owned-and-leased office buildings to include the charging infrastructure where appropriate. It will establish an EV COAG – i.e. with state ministers – to improve the coordination of infrastructure planning.
All new federally funded road upgrades will have to incorporate electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Labor will also allow businesses an upfront tax deduction to purchase electric vehicles for business purposes, as part of Labor’s announced Australian Investment Guarantee. “We will allow business to immediately deduct 20 per cent depreciation for EV vehicles valued at more than $20,000 as part of private fleets.”
Labor acknowledged that Australia is one of the only developed nations in the world not to have standards in place – probably costing the average motorist an extra $500 a year in fuel costs – and it would work with industry to develop them.
It is aiming to adopt the Climate Change Authority advice of a standard of 105g of CO2/km for light vehicles, which would bring Australia’s cars into line with those in the US, but won’t be as stringent as those operating in the EU.
“These standards will be applied to car retailers to meet average emissions standards, rather than imposing blanket mandatory standards on manufacturers,”it says.
“This will allow retailers to meet the standards by offsetting high emissions car sales with low or zero emissions car sales – such as electric vehicles.”