A senior bureaucrat in the ACT has suggested offering free parking and use of transit lanes to drivers who make the switch to electric cars, in an attempt to bolster battery-powered autos.
ACT Environment Commissioner Kate Auty co-authored a report proposing incentives for drivers looking to make the switch to electric.
The proposed inducements include free parking, the ability to use transit and carpool lanes, and tax incentives for people looking to take up electric vehicles.
“It’s the convenience question and it’s the cost question,” Professor Auty said.
“We have such a real challenge to deal with climate change that we should be taking whatever steps we can to get people to adopt new technologies.
“Something like free parking might be just one of the things that tips … the balance.”
Professor Auty agreed the measures would amount to inducements for drivers to make the switch, but said it was something the Government should seriously consider.
“Subsidies have been tried in other jurisdictions as I understand it, it will depend of course on a whole range of budget implications for Government,” she said.
“We subsidise lots of things, we subsidise at the moment ordinary vehicles, we subsidise coal-fired power stations, we subsidise renewables, and we need to get that balance right.
“It will be a matter for Government, and Government will have to think about what they’ve got to spend.”
‘Charging’s not a problem’
Canberrans Dave Southgate and Peter Campbell both drive electric cars — and say they are well suited to a city like Canberra.
“If you live in Canberra and you live in a house, charging’s not a problem,” Mr Southgate said.
“I charge my car now solely from solar … but it depends on your circumstances.
“I only charge at home, if I wanted to use the car to say, go to Sydney, I’d be very worried about charge points.”
Mr Campbell agreed that for city trips, his car was up to the task, and agreed with “things like free parking, and access to bus lanes and whatever … as an incentive to get over the line”.
“Just making electric cars more visible, with a big sticker on the back for example, which could be your permit sticker.
“Getting price down would help, certainly.”
Cars still pricey
However, there are still challenges facing the electric car industry in Australia.
Beyhad Jafari from the Electric Vehicle Council said while electric cars are about $2,000 cheaper to run per year, they were more expensive to buy
“The premium because of the battery currently being more expensive looks like it’s around $10,000 for two comparable cars.”
Mr Jafari agreed the ACT Government should offer incentives to encourage Canberrans to switch to electric cars.
“The best practice around the world looks like a subsidy of between $5,000 and $7,500.”
ActewAGL run nine publicly available charging stations in Canberra, mostly in the city’s inner north and south.
It is planning to install two more — in Gungahlin and Woden.
NRMA has recently promised to set one up in the ACT in the first half of next year but it has not settled on a location.