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INCENTIVES for buyers of electric vehicles in South Australia should be reinstated and expanded to include plug-in hybrids and hybrids in a bid to encourage decarbonisation in the transport industry, says the state’s motor trade body.

In a state budget submission to the South Australian government, the Motor Trade Association SA/NT (MTA) said it wants to overturn the government’s early axing of the incentive program that allowed EV buyers to claim up to $3000 on the purchase of a new EV. The program ended on January 1 this year.

Since it started on October 28, 2021, 2500 rebates have been handed to buyers of zero and low-emission vehicles bought by South Australians.

MTA CEO Darrell Jacobs said that the call comes on the back of the federal government’s proposed New Vehicle Efficiency Standard being introduced into parliament and the end of the state’s incentive program.

Darrell Jacobs

“At a time when electric vehicles still command a price premium, consumer incentives must remain if we are to drive our decarbonisation,” he said.

The MTA’s proposal would see the government reinstate the $3000 incentive for electric vehicles valued below $68,750. These incentives would also be made available to plug-in hybrid vehicles ($2000 per vehicle) and traditional hybrid vehicles ($1000 per vehicle). 

South Australia’s move to end the electric-car subsidy followed Victoria axing its $3000 electric-car subsidy from July 2023. New South Wales also ended its $3000 rebate and free stamp duty offer on January 1, 2024.

Western Australia is moving in the opposite direction. The MTA WA said that since the announcement of the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Rebate in 2022, sales of electric vehicles in WA have grown significantly, with an almost fourfold increase in sales since June 2022.

The WA Labor government will now invest a further $5.2 million for the ZEV Rebate as part of the 2024-25 State Budget.

Mr Jacobs said that the time was right for South Australia to cement its position as a nation leader in the decarbonisation of transport. 

“Whether through solar, wind or battery  uptake, South Australia has always been at the forefront of efforts towards net-zero,” he said. 

However, Mr Jacobs cautioned of speed bumps in the transition if ordinary South  Australians cannot afford a zero and low-emission vehicle which meets their needs. 

“With cost of living front of mind for all households, affordability remains one of the  top considerations for South Australians when purchasing their next vehicle.” 

South Australia, like other states, has seen rising EV sales triggered by new and cheaper product, Industry preparedness and investment recommendations, the MTA said.

The MTA’s budget submission also called for  a ‘Training, Technology and Tools’ fund to support businesses in the automotive retail, service and repair industry transition.

Mr Jacobs said that the cost to businesses is considerable. “Whether for  charging infrastructure, technician upskilling or just a new set of insulated tools, we  can’t forget the important role businesses will play in this transition.”

MTA also called for more support for automotive skills and training, specifically for its  successful ‘Mentoring and Schools Pathways’ programs. 

If successful, the proposal would see the MTA double its School Pathways program to reach even more schools across South Australia to promote career opportunities  in the automotive industry, with a particular focus on regional locations. 

National data shows that for every two young people starting a trade apprenticeship,  one drops out, highlighting the need for more to be done. 

“The MTA’s Automotive Mentor program has achieved an unprecedented 97 per cent retention rate across all program participants, and we are calling for continued  government support to see automotive apprentices through to completion,” said Mr Jacobs. 

Amid forecasted skills shortages, the MTA has also argued for longer-term solutions surrounding skilled migration, such as government trade delegations with industry  and more support for small and medium businesses to access overseas labor.

By Neil Dowling

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