Liberal sprinkling of $490 million sees NSW effectively rally drivers to buy EVs and reduce emissions


New South Wales Energy and Environment Minister, Matt Kean has introduced a $490 million plan to “charge up the nation and make NSW the Norway of Australia when it comes to EVs”,  he tweeted Sunday morning.

In Norway, 75% of new car purchases are now made up of electric vehicles (EVs), whereas just 0.75% of cars bought in Australia are currently electric, and the global average is around 4%.

The New South Wales Government policy to rapidly increase the EVs on our roads, focuses on waiving stamp duty on the purchase of EVs and hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles from 1 September; and offering a $3,000 rebate to the first 25,000 private purchasers of electric vehicles priced under $68,750.

CEO of the Electric Vehicle Council in Australia, Behyad Jafari, responded on Twitter to the announcement, calling it “the best policy in Australia and measuring up to global standards”.

Stamp duty on vehicles bought in NSW is calculated at $3 per $100 of the vehicle’s value up to a purchase price of $45,000; cars valued above that amount incur stamp duty of $1,350, plus $5 per $100, for any amount greater than $45,000 — which is more typically the price range of EVs sold in Australia.

In addition, the Berejiklian Government says it will delay charging zero-and low-emissions vehicles a road-user tax (designed to replace the revenue lost in excise from petrol sales), until new EVs make up 30% of new car sales, or until 2027 — whichever comes first.

Jafari said on Twitter, “This is how grown ups do reform,” and “The State has taken a sensible, consultative view to road user charges.” 

That’s in contrast to the Victorian EV road-user tax that will come into force on 1 July this year, which the Electric Vehicle Council slammed as “ludicrous”. 

In May, however, Victoria also introduced a $3,000 rebate on the purchase of EVs valued at less than $69,000, set a target of 50% of new car sales being zero or low emissions by 2030, and promised to help fund more charging infrastructure.

NSW charging ahead

Yesterday, the NSW Government pledged $171 million in funding for extra charging opportunities in the state, directing $131 towards ultra-fast vehicle chargers, $20 million in grants for “destination” chargers in regional areas and a further $20 million for charging infrastructure at public transport hubs.

It placed an additional overlay on the NSW charging map, saying it will strive to ensure that households with limited off-street parking are no more than 5 kilometres from a charger; and that major highways will have chargers installed at 100 km intervals, while main roads in Sydney are to be punctuated every five kilometres by charging opportunities.

“Our aim is to increase EV sales to more than 50% of new cars sold in NSW by 2030,” said Kean, “and for EVs to be the vast majority of new cars sold in the state by 2035”.

The strategy is ultimately designed to contribute to the state’s ambitions to get to net zero emissions by 2050.

Kean explained the Liberal NSW government has calculated that, “with new cars staying on the road 15 years on average, the vast majority of new cars sold in NSW need to be EVs by 2035,” in order to achieve the 2050 target.

EVs win the right to glide down the Transit lane

Preferential treatment of EV drivers in NSW will also be extended in the form of access to transit lanes otherwise reserved for cars with two occupants (T2 lanes) or three occupants (T3 lanes) at peak traffic times.

The government forecasts that introducing its suite of incentives will bring new EV  car sales to 52% by 2030-31.

Bell Resources calls time on timidity

Those future EV drivers received an extra boost of range confidence when start-up venture Bell Resources, which is chaired by NSW ex-Liberal leader Kerry Chikarovski, last week announced its acquisition of 63 car-wash businesses in Victoria, the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, and its intention to add EV fast charging to the sites.

Bell Resources intends kitting out the car washes with ultra-fast direct-current (DC) charging infrastructure provided by Swiss/Swedish company ABB, substantially powered by new rooftop solar-plus-battery installations of initially 100 kW generation and 200 kWh storage capacity, but with the potential to expand the solar over leased neighbourhood rooftops and grow the battery storage in increments of 100kWh.

Chief Executive of Bell Resources, Mark Avery, last week told the Australian Financial Review that car washes are more suited than petrol stations as sites for EV chargers, because they don’t have to deal with the 12-metres-from-the-petrol-bowser safeguards that apply to petrol stations, don’t have the site-contamination issues of petrol-station infrastructure, yet are built for high-volume vehicle movement. He added that in most states they’re also not required to obtain EV development approval.

A cool 10 cents a kilowatt charge fee

Combined car-wash revenues and the energy cost benefits of stored rooftop solar generation, says Avery, will allow the disruptor to sell its charge at around 10 cents a kilowatt.

This could leave Tesla charging stations eating dust, given their typical pricing of around 52 cents a kilowatt. 

Of course there are several other charge brands currently expanding or setting up in Australia — including the largest, Chargefox, with around 500 public chargers; the NRMA with almost 40 chargers; and up and comer Evie Networks, which is rolling out around 80 ultra-fast chargers across 42 locations in Australia.

Like petrol stations, Bell Hub-branded charge stations will offer dynamic charge pricing, which represents the best price available at any time from a combination of solar, battery and grid energy, with renewables providing the bulk of dispatched electricity.

Although drivers won’t be able to wash and charge their vehicles simultaneously (!), Bell Hubs’ ABB 350 kW DC fast chargers claim to add some 30 km of range to an EV every minute that they’re plugged in — so topping up won’t take long.

Avery says the company plans to expand its network to 300 charging stations over the coming few years.

It also has ambitions to build solar farms in Australia and the United States, in close proximity to its EV charging sites, to improve control over energy costs and improve margins”; and to develop innovative and efficient approaches to EV lithium ion-battery development and manufacture, its website says.

Australians may not be skiing cross country any time soon, but the wheels seem to be turning on the country’s EV ecosystem, and it’s looking more likely that within a couple of years you’ll be driving like a Norwegian.


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