South Australia has expanded the number of new electric vehicles that will be able to access its $3,000 rebate, and formally delayed the introduction of an EV road user tax as it responded to criticism about its policy support for EVs.

A bill passed this week by state parliament will extend the $3,000 subsidy for new electric car purchases priced under $68,750 to the first 7,000 buyers (up from 6,000), (effective from now) and will also remove registration costs for the first three years.

It also delays the proposed EV road user tax July 1, 2027, or until all-electric car sales accounted for 30% of new car sales, following a similar path to NSW. Victoria has already imposed its EV road user tax.

The amendments to the rebate and registration form part of a $22.7 million package, are intended to sweeten the deal for new EV owners who will eventually be required to pay 2.5 cents per kilometre driven by electric vehicles and 2 cents/km for plug-in hybrids.

In August, a study by the Australia Institute showed that many South Australians are keen to buy an electric vehicle, but the introduction of a tax on road usage would deter them.

SA treasurer Rob Lucas welcomed the new bill, saying it amounted to more money “pro-rata” than either the NSW or Victorian government.

The pace of change is overwhelming – where the future is zero emissions, the future is electric vehicles,” he said in a statement. South Australia also leads the country, and the world, in the share of wind and solar in its grid, with 62 per cent of local demand in the past 12 months.

However, Solar Citizens’ electric vehicle campaign lead Alistair Perkins said the expanded rebate and free rego will not make up for the new EV tax: “It’s good that South Australian EV buyers will be able to access some of the incentives offered in other states, but this rushed new tax is a step in the wrong direction,” he said in a statement.

“The Government’s failure to offer the stamp duty discounts available in New South Wales and the ACT is a missed opportunity that will leave South Australians paying more.”

A new report out of the University of New South Wales on Thursday in the run up to the global COP24 summit says that Australia should do more to transition its transport sector to zero-emissions electric mobility.

The report notes that the historically poor lack of supportive policy in Australia for EVs has limited the choice that drivers have, and our love of large sports utility vehicles is driving transport emissions up.

“The catalogue of EVs available to Australian drivers is very limited because we don’t really have a clear policy on it,” said renewable energy expert and associate professor Anna Bruce from UNSW School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Resources.

“This discourages car manufacturers from investing in producing left-hand drive versions of vehicles that are already available overseas.

“It’s also difficult to import second-hand vehicles into the country and on top of that, there are additional road taxes for EV owners. So, it’s roadblocks like these which are impeding the adoption of EVs in Australia.

“It’s like the chicken and egg dilemma – but without proper policy and regulation, then demand for EVs will remain low.”

The news in late 2020 that states would consider charging electric cars, which do not pay the fuel excise collected by the federal government, was met with warnings that such taxes would damage the already slow nascent transition to clean transport in Australia.

The introduction of a road user tax for EVs in Victoria on July 1 was met with derision by drivers who have been threatened with having their registration cancelled if they do not send in their odometer readings. It is one of the only jurisdictions in the world that currently taxes electric vehicles.

Two electric vehicle drivers in Australia have launched a legal attack on the Victorian government for introducing a road user tax for electric vehicles, saying it is unconstitutional and only delays an important transition to carbon-free driving.

Extracted in full: South Australia expands EV rebate and adds free rego, delays road tax (