Tasmania’s Liberal government has pledged to transition its car fleet to 100 per cent electric vehicles by 2030, just weeks after tabling legislation to lock in the island state’s nation-leading renewable energy target of 200 per cent by 2040.
In a 2020-21 budget statement on Friday, the Gutwein government, which already uses a number of EVs in its fleet, said it would kick off the new commitment with the adoption of four hybrid vehicles over the next two years, with the first set to arrive by the end of the year.
The state will also trial zero emissions buses – electric or hydrogen – in both its northern and southern metropolitan areas over the coming two years, with any additional resources required for this to be allocated in next year’s budget.
Tasmania premier Peter Gutwein, who is also minister for climate change, said the state had already made significant progress to support the uptake of electric vehicles, including the establishment of a statewide network of 14 fast chargers and 23 workplace and destination chargers.
“As the availability and range of electric vehicles continues to increase, we will increase our purchases to reach our target. The 2020-21 Budget allocates $2.3 million over three years to continue our sensible and measured transition,” Gutwein said.
“Importantly, our electric vehicle target will include battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen vehicles, aligning with our commitment to double our renewable energy generation by 2040 and fast-track a hydrogen industry in Tasmania by 2030.
“Our target will be underpinned by a 100% electric vehicle and zero emissions strategy, including interim measures to further reduce emissions in the government fleet.”
The Tasmania commitment to electric vehicles follows a similar move by South Australia, last week, where the government pledged to transition its fleet to EVs and accelerate the rollout of fast-charging infrastructure across the state by 2030-35.
South Australia’s copy-book, however, has been tarnished by its move to impose an elecric vehicle road user tax, an initiative that faces defeat in state parliament but which may be copied by NSW.
It also marks the latest in a spate of ambitious climate-focused state and territory government policies, many of them from Liberal or Coalition administrations, including the NSW Berejiklian government which at the start of this week announced a 14GW, $32 billion build-out of new renewable energy and storage capacity.
As Ketan Joshi writes here, this leaves the Coalition federal government more exposed than ever – surrounded on all sides, even by their party colleagues at a state level, who appear to have put ideology aside in favour of policies that just make sense, on a number of levels.
For Tasmania, as Gutwein notes, a shift of the government fleet to EVs will help create a second-hand electric vehicle market for the community, reduce dependence on imported liquid fuels, and increase demand for the state’s abundance of renewable energy.
Not only that, but based on currently available models and technologies, it is expected to save around $2 million in maintenance, around $6 million in fuel costs and will reduce emissions by around 13,000 metric tonnes.
“As we rebuild a stronger Tasmania together, it’s important we continue to innovate, invest in new technologies and continue transitioning to a low emissions economy,” he said.
Tasmania’s move on EVs has been welcomed by Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, with FCAI chief Tony Weber describing it as evidence of “a forward-thinking government.”
“Tasmania’s unique position with its renewable energy advantage means that the fleet will utilise domestic energy sources and create a more affordable second-hand electric vehicle market that will support the longer-term widespread adoption of low emission vehicles,” Weber said.
“This proposal shows great leadership by the Tasmanian Government and will hopefully inspire some less progressive governments around Australia.”