Zero and low emission vehicles need encouragement rather than new charges: FCAI

Proposed legislation to introduce a new road charging framework for zero and low emissions vehicles by the Victorian Government could hinder the uptake of these vehicles on Victorian roads according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

Fearing the legislation was premature, FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said in a statement issued today that an efficient road user charging framework associated with comprehensive tax reform would have the potential to benefit governments and motorists, but was an issue that must be considered for the future.

“It does not make sense to apply the charge to zero emission vehicles right now as these technologies are still in their infancy and account for a relatively small portion of vehicle sales across Australia,” Weber said.

“Right now, Governments should be encouraging the uptake of these technologies with positive policy initiatives particularly around emissions targets, infrastructure development and appropriate incentives for fleets and private consumers rather than introducing charges that potentially reduce the incentive for these customers to buy these vehicles,” he said.

A nationally consistent approach to future road user charging frameworks, according to Weber, should be introduced to provide clarity and consistency across the country rather than the potential for different approaches across each State.

“There is no doubt that Governments must consider future revenue streams to ensure continuing investment in road and transport infrastructure. The automotive sector is wanting to be a part of those discussions to support positive outcomes driven by efficiency and effectiveness for all stakeholders,” he said.

At current volumes, however, the funds raised through the proposed legislation were certain to be minimal according to Weber.

“Until zero and low emission vehicles become more mature technologies, Governments should be avoiding the temptation to subject them to new taxes and charges that impact on their acceptance from consumers,” he said.

“Advanced economies across the world are finding ways to encourage and incentivise the introduction of these vehicles rather than introducing charges that are barriers to their market growth.”