Canberra’s rEVolution

Now is the time to build a sustainable 21st-century city.

That means a Canberra with strong, resilient ecosystems, secure employment, the end of air and noise pollution as we know it, and cheap renewable electricity for everyone. 

The ACT Greens will continue to lead climate action in Australia, by using our 100% renewable electricity-powered economy to transform Canberra into the Electric Vehicle Capital.

Over the next decade, we will transform Canberra into a city where driving an Electric Vehicle (EV) - is the norm. This 'rEVolution' will see EVs become affordable, recharging convenient, and the default, most cost-effective choice for residents and businesses.

Our rEVolution will dramatically increase electric vehicle use in the ACT by:

  1. Adopting a target for 90% of NEW car sales to be zero-emission by 2030
  2. Creating a $50 million fund to provide financial incentives for people, businesses and the community sector to purchase zero emission vehicles 
  3. Transitioning to zero emissions public transport, garbage trucks, taxi and rideshare vehicles by 2035
  4. Expanding the network of recharging stations across Canberra and the region, and requiring charging infrastructure for multi-unit residential and commercial buildings  
  5. Conducting market sounding to attract zero emission vehicle industries and other economic and educational opportunities to the ACT
  6. Researching and piloting Vehicle2Grid and Vehicle2Home projects to improve energy efficiency and grid reliability
  7. Travel incentives for ZEVs.

WHY invest in Electric Vehicles?

We need to be honest; the way we travel around our city is unsustainable. 

Transport emissions from vehicles are now by far the ACT’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, at over 63%. The only way we can properly address climate change is through a rapid transition to zero-emissions travel.

Electric vehicles are a win for the environment and also a win for people. They create zero greenhouse gas emissions, zero tailpipe pollution, and less noise.

They are also cheaper to run and service than petrol or diesel vehicles: Canberra drivers would save around $810 to $1400 every year on vehicle ownership costs.

Canberrans overwhelmingly support electric vehicles, but are deterred by high cost of purchase and lack of charging infrastructure. Government support is needed. 

The ACT Greens will not allow the policy vacuum left by a climate-denying Federal Government spreading mistruths about electric vehicles to continue.

The transformation will also benefit the ACT’s economy; there are great advantages for us in leading the way, just as we have done on renewable electricity.  PWC estimated that if Australia achieved a transformation to just 50% of new car sales being EV by 2030, the increase to real GDP would be $2.9 billion and the increase to net employment would be 13,400 jobs, relative to 2016-17. The ACT will capture a significant fraction of this through the Greens’ plan. 

1. Adopting a target for 90% of new car sales to be zero-emission by 2030

In order to guide ACT Government policies and funding, and to inform and motivate vehicle markets, the Greens will set a Government target that 90% of new vehicle sales in the ACT will be zero emission by 2030, and 100% by 2035

This is an ambitious target, considering Australia is already lagging far behind other countries in terms of zero emission take up, infrastructure, and policy support. In 2019 just 0.83% of new car sales in the ACT were electric vehicles

These targets significantly accelerate the current trajectory for EV takeup: with no intervention, Australia is expected to reach 100% of new vehicle sales being electric by about 2045, but this is too late.

Targets are essential to signal to vehicle manufacturers and other businesses that the ACT Government is committed to transitioning the ACT to EVs, and therefore is a place to do business. This will make more vehicles available to consumers at lower prices, and stimulate other investment such as charging infrastructure, and support services. Model availability and price are the key drivers of future EV uptake in Australia. Formal targets will also inform long term government policies and investment decisions. 

2. Creating a $50 million fund to provide financial incentives for people, businesses and the community sector to purchase zero emission vehicles 

Increasing numbers of ACT residents are keen on electric vehicles, but are deterred by their high price compared to petrol and diesel cars. The Greens know that consumers overwhelmingly support policies that will reduce the cost of electric vehicles. International examples show that financial incentives play the greatest role in driving new EV purchases, particularly reductions to the up-front purchase price.

The ACT Greens plan tackles this price barrier with:  

  • A $28.5 million fund for subsidies of up to $10,000 for individual ACT residents to purchase a zero emission car or motorbike (new or second hand). Half of this amount will be a direct subsidy, and half will be a no-interest loan.
  • A $10 million grants scheme for community and not-for-profit service organisations to purchase suitable zero emissions passenger vehicles or commercial vehicles.   
  • A $10 million grants fund for local business to purchase zero emissions commercial vehicles.
  • $3 million will be made available for businesses, body corporates and community organisations to apply for financial assistance to install charging infrastructure at their premises.

This will apply to new and used zero emission vehicles, which include electric cars, motorbikes, and commercial vehicles (e.g. electric utes and delivery vans). 

EV markets in Australia continue to lag behind those of other countries. Supporting policies are needed to help these markets develop, to make a wide range of EVs available to purchase at reasonable prices - and to ultimately make them the norm. Financial support in countries like Norway, has seen the electric vehicle market expand to a point where it now accounts for 75% of all new cars sold.  

The scheme is expected to kick start zero emission vehicle markets in the ACT and Australia, resulting in lower prices and a greater range of available zero emission vehicles, including new vehicles such as electric motorbikes.  Note that while it is expected that subsidies will primarily be for the purchase of electric vehicles, they will also be available for hydrogen vehicles. 

Note that the subsidy is NOT for purchasing more-expensive, luxury vehicles and therefore will not be available for passenger vehicles with a purchase price above $60,000. As of June 2020 there are four available EVs for less than $60,000 in Australia (Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona Electric and Ioniq, Renault Zoe), with 2 more due for imminent release (MG ZS EV and Mini Electric Hatch). 

As for all new technologies, being a first-mover can be very expensive, just as the initial feed-in-tariff for solar electricity was in 2008. The subsidy scheme will be reviewed annually, and by 2024 it is expected that markets will have developed and EV prices will be considerably lower. At this point the program will be reviewed and, if further support is needed, it will be reworked with a greater focus on lower cost vehicles, second hand vehicles, and lower income residents. With the policy incentives in this package - combined with additional federal policies to support electric vehicles in Australia* - electric vehicles could reach price parity with petrol cars by 2025 or earlier.  

The Greens will also provide free annual registration for zero emission vehicles. 

Free registration will be available to zero emission vehicle owners from 2021 - 2024. This will include the Government registration component of annual registration (not additional components such as the cost of Motor Accident Injuries Insurance). 

Financial support for electric bikes purchases 

The Greens recognise that electric bikes are an important type of “electric vehicle”, that are a healthy and sustainable alternative to car travel and enough to support some people’s general transport needs. To encourage more uptake of electric bikes, financial support will be available to Canberra residents, businesses and organisations wishing to use an e-bike to displace car travel. Discounts will be up to 50% off the retail price of an e-bike.    

In addition we will expand the ACT’s new E-bike library service, which allows Canberrans to borrow an E-bike for free, to try it out. We will increase the number of bikes available from 8 to 25. 

* For example it would be useful if the Federal Government would set national fuel efficiency standards so that global manufacturers would send more vehicles to Australia.

3. Transitioning to zero emissions public transport, garbage trucks, taxi and rideshare vehicles by 2035

Emissions from the ACT Government bus fleet are responsible for over 50% of all ACT Government emissions. Electric buses are capable, well tested, and cost effective, and it is time for the ACT to transition to a zero emissions bus fleet.

  • The Greens will ensure that any new buses purchased by the ACT Government are zero emissions, and will transition the entire bus fleet to zero emissions vehicles by 2035 (this allows the existing buses to complete their service life).   
  • Future contracts for waste services will require zero emission vehicles. This means that the new kerbside waste contract in 2023 may need a clause requiring the waste collection fleet to transition to electric garbage trucks in an agreed timeframe.   
  • ACT taxi and rideshare vehicles should be zero emissions by 2035. This means taxi or rideshare operators will need to use zero emissions vehicles if they are to receive a licence to operate in the ACT. These operators will be eligible to access the subsidy scheme. 

The ACT Government general vehicle fleet is scheduled to have completely transitioned to zero emission vehicles by 2021. To build on this achievement the ACT Greens will work on shifting the ACT Government’s fleet of heavier vehicles (ranger vehicles etc) to zero emissions. 

4. Increasing electric vehicle charging stations

Rolling out a public EV charging network across the ACT and region

Another obstacle preventing consumers purchasing electric vehicles is the perception that there will be limited places to recharge them. 

The Greens will roll out a network of EV charging stations across Canberra and the ACT region by conducting a reverse auction process to build an initial network of public charging points. 

50 locations, including town and group centres, will be determined in response to public consultation. The winning proponent/s will be required to build and operate the network, as well as to provide additional local investments in Canberra to benefit residents and the economy, such as investment in electric vehicle education and training, potentially in conjunction with the local CIT. 

Regionally, the Greens would ensure the ACT leads a cooperative program to coordinate the installation of rapid charging infrastructure along major routes in the region.  

Requiring installation of charging infrastructure for multi-unit residential and commercial buildings

Realistically, most trips made in Canberra are a short distance, and most recharging of EVs would occur at home. To ensure home charging is convenient for people living in multi-unit dwellings, the Greens will amend ACT planning legislation to ensure that all new multi-unit developments and commercial buildings have electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

5. Conducting market sounding to attract zero emission vehicle industries and other economic and educational opportunities to the ACT

The ACT Greens will ensure the ACT is a leader in the transition to zero emissions vehicles and provides a range of jobs growth and economic opportunities for the region. As a first step we will initiate market sounding to identify EV related economic and education opportunities for the ACT. This will include EV servicing, used vehicle imports, technology and software, petrol-to-electric vehicle conversions, EV battery recycling and repurposing, and research and development.  

We will also explore opportunities for Canberra Institute of Technology to run training and education in electric vehicle technology and services. As a first step we will seek opportunities for education funding as part of the local investment requirements of the charging infrastructure reverse auctions.  

6. Researching and piloting Vehicle2Grid and Vehicle2Home projects to improve energy efficiency and grid reliability

Electric vehicles are a ‘battery on wheels’. This means they provide exciting opportunities to support the electricity grid by feeding electricity back into the grid when it’s needed. They can also operate as a residential battery storage system and backup power-supply during short-term grid outages.

A pilot project is already underway to collect data on how ACT Government fleet EVs can support the electricity grid. We will continue to identify opportunities to further Vehicle to Home pilot and research projects by the ACT partnering with industry and research organisations, such as ARENA and the ANU.  

7. Travel incentives for ZEVs

Zero emission vehicles will also be allowed to travel in transit lanes regardless of passenger numbers, and in bus lanes (corridors only, not bus priority jumps at traffic lights). 

Download a PDF of our plan here.