NSW targets fleet buyers in $595m EV policy extension

Image: Facebook – New South Wales treasurer and environment minister Matt Kean.

The New South Wales Government will support the state’s fleet buyers to purchase more electric vehicles in a bid to drive a second-hand market for consumers, taking a page out of federal Labor’s policy book and distancing itself from federal Coalition counterparts.

In a $105 million package that brings the NSW government electric vehicle (EV) strategy to $595 million, the state government will cover part of fleet operators’ extra costs of going electric over conventional vehicles.

The new subsidy will be delivered through a biannual reverse bidding process.

It follows a federal EV policy announcement on Tuesday which was widely criticised for a lack of subsidies or targets for new car sales.

New South Wales is targeting 50 per cent of new car buys being electric by 2030 with a suite of policies including rebates, charging infrastructure, delaying its road user charge, and supporting fleet buyers.

Federal Labor took the same target to the 2019 election and was attacked by Prime Minister Scott Morisson who said the policy would “end the weekend” and undermined EV technology.

Under a revamped policy revealed in April, Labor did not recommit to the target but promised tax exemptions designed specifically to favour fleet buyers. The Opposition has identified fleet makeup as the biggest way to change consumer buying behaviour, and the strategy has been endorsed by experts and the EV industry.

This week the NSW government unveiled plans for a similar strategy to make EVs more appealing to fleet buyers.

Fleet operators like taxis, councils and construction companies will be able to nominate the level of government incentive they need to purchase each eligible EV, in a reverse bidding process run every size months until 2024.

Fleets account for around half of all new car buys in the state and typically turnover vehicles to the second-hand market every few years.

“Which means that we are catalysing the development of the second-hand market, again lowering the price point for consumers” NSW treasurer and environment minister Matt Kean told the ABC.

Mr Kean, who has clashed with his federal counterparts on environment policies in the past, said the new federal EV policy was “good but could go a lot further”.

“I’d encourage the federal government to be looking at doing things like providing direct support for people that want to purchase an EV. There’s a range of taxes and charges that could be waived that would make EVs more accessible for families and businesses right across the country.”

The federal government’s newly announced EV policy allocates $178 million in new funding for charging stations and infrastructure, and came less than three years after Prime Minister Scott Morrison attacked the Opposition’s EV policy with a spurious claim that it would “end the weekend”.

NSW alone will spend more on charging infrastructure, and its policies make the state the most supportive state of low emission cars in the country. But the state government was not consulted on the new federal policy, according to the treasurer.

Mr Kean said the biggest EV lever the federal government could pull would be to deal with current fuel standards, which allow manufacturers to sell higher polluting vehicles in Australia.

“Australia has some of the worst fuel standards anywhere in the world. Our fuel standards are worse than China and they are worse than India. And what that means is that Australia is becoming the dumping ground for the vehicles the rest of the world doesn’t want,” Mr Kean said.

“That’s not only bad for the environment, but it means that consumers are getting less choice and they are paying more at the bowser. That’s not acceptable.”

The New South Wales government last month passed legislation underpinning its wider electric vehicle strategy. The legislation passed with cross-party support with only minor amendments.

© Foton Mobility