Victoria is more more than one-third of the way through the first round of its zero emission vehicle rebates, with almost 1,200 applications taken up across a vast range of postcodes and led by “very strong interest” from Tesla Model 3 buyers.
Solar Victoria, which manages the subsidy scheme for the Andrews state Labor government, said this week that a total of 1178 applications to the $3,000 rebate had been made since the scheme kicked into action in July, 96% of which had been paid out in full to customers.
Solar Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said the rebate had ticked away nicely through its first months, despite repeated lockdowns, to give the state’s EV registrations a 77% boost in July compared to the first three months of the year and even put sales ahead of New South Wales for the first time.
According to the latest data, the vast majority of the applications (78%) have so far come from individuals, with the remainder applied for by businesses. Nearly 90% (89%) have been registered to metro Melbourne postcodes, while 11 per cent are populating regional roads.
Still leading the race is the “up-and-coming” locale of Point Cook in Melbourne’s outer south-west, where Krpan said his team was observing a “convergence of technologies,” with that suburb also proving to be a leader in the uptake of home solar and batteries.
“We can’t quite put our finger on it, what’s going on in Point Cook,” Krpan told The Driven in an interview on Thursday. “But it’s something that we’ll keep an eye on. It’s very interesting.”
Point Cook aside, the mix of suburbs represented in the latest data – see map and table below – illustrates that the appetite for EVs is spread fairly evenly, which suggests that the more costs come down, and the greater the number of models on offer, the faster the shift will be.
For this round of between 3-4,000 rebates, a price cap has been set at $67,000, making the selection of EVs that can access the rebate more limited than it already is in Australia.
From this relatively small field, Krpan says the Tesla Model 3 is currently proving the most popular with those applying for rebates, while the MG and Mini electrics are also fairly well represented.
But as the first round of applications are filled, Solar Victoria is working with industry and in particular with manufacturers to see how it can make the rebate more accessible, including a possible adjustment of the cap.
“One of the things we are trying to do with this scheme is attract more models to the market,” Krpan said. “We welcome new models and new brands, particularly the brands like Hyundai that people know and love and that are also more affordable.”
Already the scheme was recently broadened to take in “demonstration models,” in a bid to encourage car makers to take a risk on the market, and changes have also been made to allow car dealerships in border towns that fall on the New South Wales side to offer the rebate to Victorian customers.
The changes also allow for ZEVs bought through a leasing arrangement to access the rebate, opening it up to more businesses and fleet purchases. All of the recent changes the the scheme apply to ZEVs bought from May 02 of this year (see details here).
The current focus for Solar Victoria, however, is to continue to work with industry to offer a point-of-sale rebate on all eligible brands.
The team is in the process of launching a portal that will allow dealers and customers to access the rebate in this way, allowing it move beyond being a reimbursement and instead act as a discount at the point of sale.
“As soon as we’ve developed the point of sale model we can discuss what happens with the next tranche [of rebates] and whether the cap will move up,” said Krpan.
“Some of the [EV] brands that are just outside [the $67,000 cap] have been engaging with us. We’ve started those conversations.”
Might the state’s hugely unpopular road user charge be wound back? On that front Krpan says only that “the policy of the day is the government’s prerogative.” But he says he hasn’t yet heard of any EV drivers having their registrations cancelled for not playing along.
“The first tranche [of rebates] is between 3,000 – 4,000 vehicles, which gives us plenty of time to work with industry on the settings for the next tranche,” he told The Driven.
“Government has appointed an expert panel on the shift to EVs and I’m expecting that they’ll make recommendations on the next tranche, too.”