Op Ed: Time to charge ahead

For far too long electric vehicles have been the subject of ridiculous scare campaigns intended to discourage Australians from driving cleaner, cheaper-to-run vehicles.

You only have to look at the popularity of EVs overseas to see what baseless rubbish these myths are.

So what's different in Australia? Up until now, government policy. EVs have been too expensive and many models still are. I know there will be many families who would love to make the switch but get lured by a cheaper petrol model.

Part of the issue is that we simply haven't had the choice of more affordable models in Australia because they've been sent to other markets with better EV policies.

Thankfully, sensible and overdue policy changes are bringing Aussies more choices to save money on fuel, cut emissions, support fuel security and improve our health.

When the Labor Government was elected, EVs accounted for just two per cent of new-car sales, well behind countries such as the US and UK. Now, they are around 9 per cent.

The National Automotive Leasing and Salary Packaging Association (NALSPA) reports 20 to 25 per cent of all novated lease sales are EVs, up from around 1-2 per cent last year.

This is in large part because of our Electric Car Discount Policy, which provides a fringe benefits tax (FBT) exemption for EVs below the luxury car tax threshold when vehicles are financed under a novated lease.

For a model valued at about $50,000, it means a $4700 a year benefit to an employee. In some cases, that could make a Tesla Model 3 cheaper to lease on an annual basis than a petrol vehicle like a Mazda CX-5.

And there are clear cost-of-living savings, with the average EV driver saving around $2000 on fuel a year. Maintenance costs for EVs tend to be lower.

To get more EVs on our roads, we're implementing a Fuel Efficiency Standard, which will encourage manufacturers to supply more fuel efficient cars.

On average, new cars in Australia use 20 per cent more fuel than the United States.

We know another barrier to EV uptake is infrastructure. That's why we have partnered with the NRMA to rollout 117 fast chargers along national highways and close the gaps.

We want all Australians of all incomes and backgrounds to have greater access to cleaner, cheaper-to-run vehicles.

Published in the Daily Telegraph