ACT to offer electric car buyers free registration and $15,000 loans

Labor and the Greens have vowed to incentivise electric vehicle buyers and improve charging infrastructure.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) just solidified its position as Australia’s most electric car-friendly jurisdiction by promising to introduce free registration and interest-free loans for new electric car buyers.

Under a new governing agreement co-signed by Labor and the Greens, Canberrans will be able to access “a program of zero-interest loans of up to $15,000 for households and not-for-profit community organisations to assist with the upfront costs of investing in zero-emission vehicles”.

“This includes free vehicle registration for new zero-emission vehicles for two years, introduced as soon as practical,” the agreement states.

Currently, the ACT already provides a stamp duty exemption to electric car buyers, as well as a 20 per cent discount on registration.

The governing agreement also stipulates the construction of “at least 50 electric vehicle re-charging stations across Canberra and the region”.

Additionally, it promises to continue the transition of Canberra’s public bus fleet to zero emissions vehicles by “buying 90 electric buses in the next government term, building a new zero-emissions bus depot in Canberra’s North and building electric bus infrastructure at the new Woden Depot”.

Under the agreement, both parties have vowed to “significantly expand the number of zero emission vehicles in the ACT”, by engaging with the industry to adopt an “ambitious target for new ACT vehicle sales to be zero emission by 2030”.

There are also plans to develop additional financial incentives for greater uptake by the business and community sector and implement a pathway for increased zero emissions public transport, garbage trucks and taxi and rideshare vehicles by the mid-2030s.

Finally, it outlines a plan to “conduct market sounding to attract zero emission vehicle industries and other economic and training opportunities to the ACT”.

A governing agreement means the relevant signatories “agree to support and deliver the initiatives as they are described in this Agreement, unless a written agreement to vary the initiative is signed by the leaders of both parties”.

The news come after South Australia became the first jurisdiction in the world to propose a specific tax on electric vehicles (EVs), with the state government suggesting EV owners pay a distance-based road user tax in lieu of a fuel excise.

Elsewhere in the nation, electric cars receive reduced registration fees in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, and reduced duty rates in Victoria and Queensland.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government’s luxury car tax threshold price is higher for electric cars – for the 2020-21 financial year, it’s $77,565 for fuel-efficient vehicles, compared with $68,740 for regular vehicles.

The Electric Vehicle Council’s annual State of Electric Vehicles report for 2020 found the Australian state or territory with the highest level of policies encouraging EV uptake was the ACT with an overall B rating.

The ACT was followed – in descending order – by NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia – the latter two of which both received an F score.

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