The federal opposition is vowing to make electric cars substantially cheaper and has declared it will install 400 “community batteries” in suburbs to help cut power bills if it wins the next election.
To reduce the cost of electric vehicles, Labor plans to exempt many models from import tariffs and fringe benefits tax.
That could make a $50,000 car, like a Nissan Leaf, as much as $2000 cheaper.
If a business provided the same car to an employee through work arrangements, the company could save up to $9000 a year.
“A majority of Australians say they would consider buying an electric model as their next car,” Labor leader Anthony Albanese said.
“But because of scaremongering and the policy vacuum under the Morrison government, electric vehicles remain unaffordable for most Australians.”
The policy would only apply to non-luxury electric vehicles – cars worth less than $72,565.
It is expected to cost the budget $200 million over three years and would begin in July 2022.
Former opposition leader Bill Shorten made fuel-efficient vehicles a key part of his failed 2019 campaign, promising half of all new cars sold in Australia by 2030 would be electric.
In response, the government said Labor had declared “war on the weekend”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison even claimed: “What Australians have always expressed a preference for is the vehicles that have a bit of grunt and a bit of power.”
But opposition frontbenchers believe customer preferences are changing rapidly and they think many voters are now increasingly worried Australia will be left behind, as other nations increase their take-up of fuel-efficient cars.
Labor wants to see components of electric cars manufactured in Australia and is vowing to work with the states to improve charging infrastructure around the nation.
“By 2030, we think well above 50 per cent of new vehicles sold in Australia could be electric, so three or four million electric vehicles on our roads,” said Behyad Jafari from the Electric Vehicle Council.
“We are a global laggard right now, so to get there we’d just have to do what every other developed country in the world does — temporary tax breaks, getting ride-share and business fleets to turn electric.
“This policy from Labor will certainly encourage car manufacturers to import more electric cars and importantly, more affordable electric cars.”
Labor wants ‘community batteries’ to cut power prices and boost household solar
The Opposition is also vowing to spend an additional $200 million on 400 medium-sized batteries in suburbs and towns.
The so-called “community batteries”, which are about the size of a large car, are aimed at cutting power prices for up to 100,000 homes and taking better advantage of household solar.
About 20 per cent of households have rooftop solar panels – a figure that’s world leading.
But far fewer homes, closer to one in 60, have battery storage, which means during peak periods in the evening, or when the sun doesn’t shine, they are reliant on the grid.
The “community batteries” would connect somewhere between a few dozen and a few hundred households.
They would charge during the day and be drawn down during the night, saving households the costs of battery installation and maintenance.
“It’s much more cost effective and it puts downward pressure on electricity prices,” said Craig Emerson, a former Gillard government minister, who is now the chair of the The McKell Institute.
It is releasing a report today that focuses on ways governments can better support the introduction of batteries.
“Community batteries could be to the 2020s what the solar revolution has been to the past couple of decades,” Dr Emerson said.
“It makes suburbs more self-sufficient by storing power locally.”
The number of rooftop solar panels in Australia has raised concerns about the stability of the electricity networks.
Recently, the Australian Energy Market Commission announced it could start charging households for pushing solar power back into the grid at peak times.
Power companies are already installing medium-sized batteries to address the issue in various places, including Sydney, Lake Macquarie, Melbourne, the Northern Territory and Canberra.
But Labor says its program will accelerate their rollout, encouraging more Australians to invest in household solar panels.