The government of South Australia is allocating $18.3 million in the upcoming State Budget 2020-21 to jump-start the uptake of electric vehicles. At the same time, the South Australian state government has shocked the EV sector imposing a road user charge on electric cars in 2021.
The state government, already pushing forward with renewables, is now promoting the uptake of electric vehicles by expanding charging infrastructure and making more affordable electric cars available to more people.
The critical element of what the state government is calling the Electric Vehicle Action Plan is a state-wide fast-charging network. The South Australian government has pledged to transition the government fleets to electric vehicles within its existing budget and is calling on municipal governments and corporate fleets to make the same commitment to EVs.
South Australian energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says: “Consumers are saying there are two main barriers to electric vehicles which this policy will target – a lack of charging infrastructure and the availability of affordable models.”
The crux of the plan is to “deliver a steady stream” of electric cars for government and company fleets that will then hit second-hand markets within a couple of years, explains Van Holst Pellekaan. The transition the State Government fleets will help accelerate public charging infrastructure in the capital Adelaide, at hospitals, schools and transport hubs.
The goal is to install 110 rapid highway charging stations across the state, as well as a network of more than 350 fast destination chargers across major metropolitan centres, including 100 destination chargers across Adelaide.
All well and good, but a week after announcing these plans it became clear that in the budget delivered by Treasurer Rob Lucas that the government plans to levy road tax on electric vehicles. An unusual move that EV advocates are saying is the only place on the planet to do so. This is an awkward move while simultaneously trying to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.
The tax would only affect purely electric and plug-in hybrids, while full hybrids, which rely entirely on fossil fuels for refuelling, are exempt. Currently, there are only around 2,000 electric cars on South Australian roads. The tax is levied according to distance travelled, and with the number of electric vehicles in the state, this amounts to around $500 AUS (about 309 euros) per vehicle in the first year.
At the same time, GM Motor just announced that it will be making its SZ EV available on the Australian market, starting with sale prices. At around $40,000 AUS, this will make the fully-electric SUV crossover the most affordable electric car on the market.