The Australian government has announced a suite of funding packages totalling more than $120 million as part of plans to improve the accessibility and affordability of electric vehicles (EVs) and build out charging infrastructure in a bid to facilitate and encourage the take up of EVs among Australian drivers.
Among the packages is a new $70 million round of grant funding aimed at fostering innovation in EV charging solutions and to help improve charging technology across Australia.
To be delivered through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the program comes one day after the government announced its National Electric Vehicle Strategy which outlines plans to get more zero-emission cars into the country.
ARENA said the funding, which aims to improve charging infrastructure and provide more Australians with access to charging facilities, will be available to businesses, local governments and councils, as well as state and territory owned corporations.
The $70 million funding pool is part of the $146.1 million Driving the Nation funding package that is to be delivered by ARENA over the next five years to co-fund projects to decarbonise road transport.
The federal government has also announced a new $40 million investment to support discounted loans for EVs.
Finance through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will support a discount on green car loans offered by Australian non-bank lender Firstmac.
It is estimated the discounted loans, which will apply to EVs priced under $90,000, will save borrowers an average of $1,400 to $2,500, depending on the loan’s size and length. Firstmac will split the cost of the loan discount with the CEFC.
Origin Energy will also split the cost with the federal government for a $12.8 million program that will see the energy giant deliver 1,000 EVs and charging infrastructure to business customers nationally.
ARENA will provide almost $6.2 million in funding to Origin for the Accelerate EV Fleet Program which will see 1,000 EVs and charging infrastructure made available to the energy major’s business customers across Australia.
The program is designed to reduce the start-up costs for businesses as they look to transition their transport fleets.
ARENA Acting Chief Executive Officer Chris Faris said the program also offers an opportunity to scale up Australia’s emerging EV fleet leasing market.
“Origin’s program is ARENA’s largest to date targeting light vehicle fleets and we’re excited to see what lessons we’ll learn,” he said.
“Not only will we be putting 1,000 new electric vehicles on the road, but this program will create a blueprint for how EV fleet leasing models can operate. And those 1,000 fleet EVs will feed the second-hand market for EVs in the years ahead.”
The unveiling of the funding packages comes as Hobart-headquartered social enterprise the Good Car Company, which operates an EV marketplace as well as importing second-hand EV into Australia, called for a relaxation of import policies to improve access.
Good Car Company co-founder Anton Vikstrom said while the National Electric Vehicle Strategy is a move in the right direction, it is unlikely to create a massive increase in the number of EVs in Australia.
“Part of the answer to establishing a healthy electric vehicle industry in Australia and ensuring these sorts of vehicles are accessible to all is actually ensuring independent importation can occur with ease,” he said.
“Currently, access to a range of additional EV’s are restricted by a suite of protectionist legislative measures. The Good Car Company is advocating an easing of these restrictions for electric cars to improve access and affordability while providing consumer protectionism.”
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