Green cars need spark
Subsidies will help more people drive electric cars, write and
ForTwo, the Mini-E and a plug-in BMW 1 Series.
Some of these carmakers are set to apply pressure to the Federal Government for a significant showroom subsidy.
They want Canberra to make a commitment similar to the ones in many other countries, including the recent $8200 incentive provided by the British government to buyers of plug-in electric cars.
The British commitment follows support deals in most European countries, from Spain, France and Italy to Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Converts to electric cars in the US also get a tax break worth between $US2500 and $US7500 ($2765 and $8295), depending on the capacity of the battery.
David McCarthy, of Mercedes-Benz Australia, says subsidies are common around the world.
‘‘The Government needs to look at a general subsidy. That is the only way you’re going to get ordinary people into the cars,’’ he says.
His company intends to have an electric Smart ForTwo in its line-up next year.
‘‘We’d like to think we can get the electric Smart next year, and Mercedes-Benz is also doing a test on an electric Vito van,’’ he says.
McCarthy says the Smart should be one of the first battery cars on Australian roads but Mercedes-Benz wants to see a commitment from government at all levels.
‘‘The running costs on these cars are low, but they are expensive to buy. We don’t have an indication yet on the price of the Smart, but it isn’t going to be cheap so people do need some encouragement,’’ he says.
Most of the electric cars will be in the $50,000-$60,000 range in Australia, even though most are tiny city runabouts.
Mitsubishi is planning to join Mercedes in lobbying the Federal Government, most likely through the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
‘‘There is an electric vehicle working group in the FCAI, but I don’t think the lobbying has started yet,’’ McCarthy says.
COOL AND CLEAN: The Nissan Leaf on show at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The Australian industry wants more incentives offered to electric car buyers.