Tech giant Uber’s local boss says Australia needs to move away from fuel taxes and instead adopt a road user charging scheme to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in the country.

In a white paper to be published on Thursday, the US-based rideshare giant has also called for reduced stamp duty, registration and luxury car taxes for electric vehicles, access to bus and transit lanes and the rollout of suburban “near home” public charging points.

Dom Taylor, general manager of Uber Australia, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald electric vehicle uptake in Australia was “a mess” with the cars making up 1.57 per cent of Australian new car sales compared to Norway, which is at 75 per cent and the United Kingdom, where adoption is at 11 per cent.

Uber Australia boss Dom Taylor.
Uber Australia boss Dom Taylor. CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY

“I talk to my peers around the world, and often they’re quite surprised at how far behind Australia is in the electric space,” he said.

Less than 1 per cent of Ubers in Australia are electric vehicles and Mr Taylor said this was mainly because of the scarcity of low-cost electric vehicles in Australia and the lack of fuel emission standards.

“If there’s one market where there’s no fuel emission standards, then that’s an obvious place where you’re not going to send your lowest cost, low margin, electric vehicles,” he said.

The $US77 billion ($104 billion) company has set a goal to be zero emission by 2040 and in some markets, such as London in the United Kingdom, it’s aiming to have every car on its platform to be fully electric by 2025.

However, Mr Taylor said hitting the 2040 goal is “going to be a stretch” in Australia. Achieving the target would require the company to stop onboarding non-electric vehicles in Australia by 2030, in a market where 99 per cent of new car sales are non-electric vehicles.

“That’s really going to have to change in the coming years if we are going to change,” he said.

Mr Taylor said the rideshare company believed it could have an “outsized impact” in accelerating the transition to zero emission transport as rideshare drivers switching to electric vehicles realised three to four times greater emissions savings compared to average car owners because of frequency of use.

He said Uber’s platform could also play a role in improving consumer understanding and awareness of electric vehicles, with drivers fielding questions from passengers about their performance and range.

Uber’s call for action on electric vehicle adoption follows $39 billion toll giant Transurban earlier this week calling for motorists to be charged for every kilometre they drive to pay for roads, as the take-up of electrical vehicles erodes fuel excise revenue.

“We think it’s going to be a combination of private and public for the avoidance of doubt,” Mr Taylor said. “We think that this waiting game of private and public sectors, watching each other, is what got us in a mess here, so it’s going to take leadership on both sides.”

Mr Taylor pointed to measures announced in New South Wales’ most recent budget including upfront subsidies and stamp duty appeasement as “meaningful” and was critical of the additional charges imposed by Victoria on electric vehicle users.

Uber has given a 50 per cent discount on its service fee for this financial year to drivers of electric vehicles which it said meant it would lose money on those trips.

Mr Taylor denied that Uber’s push for electric vehicles was “greenwashing” with data showing rideshare companies such as Uber have increased the number of cars on the road rather than reduced them.

“Not at all,” he said. “I strongly believe we’re part of the culture change that needs to occur as the future of point-to-point transport shifts, we’ve been very outspoken that it’s going to be a combination of shared, electric, and in time autonomous, we’re investing in all three of those.”

Extracted in full from: Uber urges tax cuts and road usage charges to spur EV uptake (