Drivers in the Australian Capital Territory can now apply for zero-interest loans designed to boost the uptake of electric vehicles, as industry groups call for similar programs to be adopted across the country.
The loans will be available under the ACT government’s sustainable household scheme, which offers interest-free loans for solar panels, battery storage technology and other sustainable equipment. Electric vehicles were added to the program on Monday.
Anyone who holds a valid ACT driving licence or owns a home in the territory can apply for 10-year zero-interest loans of up to $15,000. This in addition to other benefits such as a stamp duty exemption for new electric vehicle purchases.
Shane Rattenbury, the ACT minister for water, energy and emissions reduction, said the territory wanted to send a strong signal it was embracing the transition to electric cars, both domestically and to carmakers abroad.
“The key message here for the external audience is for automakers to say – look at Canberra, get the vehicles into the ACT,” he said.
“We’ve got a keen market here. We know people want to purchase these vehicles. We need to see more models at lower prices.”
Rattenbury, who drives an electric vehicle, said the federal government “has not been strong supporters of EVs” so it was important for state and territory governments to make their intentions clear.
“Nationally, we do have a problem,” Rattenbury. “When you talk to the automakers, they’re hesitant to bring vehicles to Australia because they’re unclear about government policy.”
The program is being organised in a staged process with a small number of electric vehicle suppliers participating initially. More will be added over time.
Dr Jake Whitehead, head of policy at the Electric Vehicle Council, welcomed the development, saying it could save drivers thousands of dollars in interest payments and improve access to electric cars.
“If you own an EV long enough, it’s a cheaper option over time,” he said.
“What this loan facility enables you to do is get those savings up front.”
Energy company AGL calculated the cost of running an electric vehicle and found it was $1,346 cheaper than running a petrol car, although this result can change depending on location and whether solar panels are used to charge.
Whitehead called for interest-free loans to be rolled out across Australia, but said additional policies must also be introduced as well to supercharge uptake.