• Minister defies Coalition naysayers on electric cars

    Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has defied Coalition critics on electric cars, vowing the Turnbull government will support the fledgling technology and insisting it is better for the environment than traditional cars.

    Mr Frydenberg this month kickstarted debate on the issue in an interview and opinion piece for Fairfax Media, predicting more than one million electric vehicles would be on Australian roads by 2030 and likening the revolution to the introduction of the iPhone.

    He did not pledge concrete government action to encourage electric vehicle uptake but promised better co-ordination, including with the states, on research and development, charging infrastructure planning, vehicle fleet targets and financial incentives.

    The comments provoked concern from Liberal MP and climate sceptic Craig Kelly, who believes giving tax breaks to electric vehicle buyers risks increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Mr Kelly told Fairfax Media he had not yet broadly canvassed his Coalition colleagues on the issue. News Corp reported his position was backed by Nationals Andrew Broad and John Williams, both of whom are overseas and had not confirmed their views at the time of publication.

    Mr Kelly said a Tesla electric vehicle powered by the electricity grid emitted more greenhouse gas than a petrol-fuelled Toyota Corolla.

    “I’m sure electric cars are fantastic to drive … but I can’t see any case whatsoever that they should receive special subsidies and special concessions over and above petrol cars because if you look at the numbers, there is no case they will significantly reduce CO2 emissions,” he said.

    Mr Kelly based his assertions on data from the government’s Green Vehicle Guide website, which allows comparisons between vehicle makes and models.

    Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said the Tesla was a performance vehicle and could not fairly be compared to a Corolla.

    He also questioned the timeliness of the electricity grid data used to generate the comparison, suggesting it may be out of date and not reflect the growing contribution of renewables to the electricity mix. Information on the date of the data has been sought from the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.

    Mr Frydenberg on Monday insisted electric vehicles produced less emissions than their conventional counterparts.

    “When taking into account the current average emissions of the national electricity grid the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe already produce less emissions per kilometre travelled when compared to an equivalent size [traditional] vehicle,” he said.

    “The emissions profile of EVs [electric vehicles] will decline as the grid becomes less emissions intensive in the years ahead.”

    Mr Frydenberg said the government would continue to “support low emissions vehicles”.

    Mr Jafari said all electric vehicle models on Australian roads produced fewer emissions than similar sized conventional cars.

    Electric cars make up just 0.1 per cent of new vehicle sales in Australia, compared to 20 per cent of new sales in Norway.

    The federal government offers incentives such as a discount on the luxury car tax threshold for electric car buyers. However Mr Jafari said that tax and the fringe benefits tax should be scrapped entirely, and the states should abolish registration fees and stamp duty – measures he said would “jumpstart the market” if implemented in the short term.

    Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s 2017 review of the national electricity market said electric vehicles could help achieve significant emissions reductions with the “right mix of incentives … along with a decarbonised electricity grid”.

    Greens senator Janet Rice said a parliamentary library analysis, commissioned by her party,showed that even in a scenario where coal-fired power dominated the energy grid, electric vehicles still produced less pollution than petrol or diesel vehicles.

    “The Turnbull government must stop delaying action to curb our skyrocketing transport pollution – we need strong vehicle emissions standards, as well as incentives for consumers and retailers to encourage uptake of electric vehicle,” she said.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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