South Australia introduces electric vehicle road user charge

South Australia will soon charge electric vehicle users up to 2.5 cents for every km they drive.

Research by The Australia Institute in July shows that while three in four South Australians agree that EVs reduce pollution and are good for the climate, health, and environment, 69 per cent believe the introduction of a road user charge would make them less likely to purchase an EV.

Alexandra Kelly, Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) Policy Manager, said this introduction unfortunately will have a negative impact on the uptake of EVs in the state.

“The introduction of an electric vehicle only road user charge is premature and sends the wrong signal to the market. It singles out drivers who have elected to do the responsible thing by choosing a zero-emission car.”

The charge of 2 cents per km (indexed) for plug-in hybrid vehicles, and 2.5 cents per km (indexed) for any other EVs, will take place from July 2027 or when the sale of EVs reaches 30 per cent of new motor vehicle sales across the state, whichever is earlier.

SA joins NSW and Victoria with the introduction of an EV road user charge, with Tasmania announcing its intention to introduce a similar charge from 2027.

As part of the bill there will also be incentives for the adoption of EVs including a $3000 subsidy for the first 7000 EVs purchased and a three-year motor registration exemption fee.

The subsidies will not be available for EVs priced over $68,750, nor for hybrid vehicles.

Kelly believes the current subsidies are a good start, but in comparison to subsidies introduced in other OECD countries, there is still work to be done.

“In markets such as the UK, EU, California, and China, there has been a financial incentive of between $7500 – $10,000 Australian dollars. Then on top of that, there is the potential of a state-based incentive as well. I think that’s definitely an area for us to work on.”

Rob Lucas, SA Treasurer, said as the state transitions towards a higher concentration of zero and low emission vehicles, it’s vital to ensure all vehicle owners, regardless of what car they drive, contribute to the upkeep of our roads into the future.

“The pace of change is overwhelming – where the future is zero emissions, the future is electric vehicles. We welcome the groundswell of support from the Parliament and key industry bodies, including the RAA, for our important reforms which will help drive the take-up of environmentally friendly zero and low emission vehicles while ensuring there is a long-term sustainable model for critical road funding.”

The road user charge would be billed in arrears as part of the registration process and will be calculated based on the distance travelled since the last registration renewal.

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