More than 3000 electric vehicle chargers will be installed across NSW under a multimillion-dollar plan by the state government to boost regional tourism.

A $20 million grant program will be made available to regional councils to apply for cash to install electric vehicle chargers across motels, wineries, natural attractions and museums.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the grant program would help establish the country’s biggest destination charging network.

“EVs are growing in popularity and this will help ensure our regional areas have the charging stations needed to welcome EV-driving visitors,” Kean said.

Sales in electric vehicles across Australia have tripled in the past year, according to a March Electric Vehicle Council report, though they still only represent about 2 per cent of new cars purchased.

The co-funded grants process will provide regional councils 75 per cent of the funds for up to four alternating current destination chargers, as well as installation. The chargers provide about 130 kilometres of range in one hour.

The government – which announced a $500 million plan to transition to electric vehicles at last year’s state budget – estimates up to 3500 chargers will be rolled out as part of the latest program.

The NSW Electric Vehicle Strategy aims to increase EV sales to 52 per cent of all new car sales by 2030-31. Under the plan EV drivers will be hit with a road-user tax within five years to fund road and infrastructure spending as fuel excise declines.

Regional Transport and Roads Minister Sam Farraway said several “EV tourist drives” would also be developed across NSW after the charging infrastructure was established.

“This will grow local economies and support small businesses in areas impacted by COVID, bushfires and floods,” Farraway said.

Stamp duty has been removed for electric vehicles that cost less than $78,000 under the state government’s EV strategy.

Once the distance-based tax is implemented, stamp duty will be abolished on all electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Cost, supply and so-called “range anxiety” are still proving the biggest barriers for the electric car market, according to the EV Council.

Chargers are also being installed across commuter car parks at stations in Sydney to improve the city’s electric vehicle infrastructure.

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