Green cars need spark

Sub­si­dies will help more peo­ple drive elec­tric cars, write and

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE.COM.AU - Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

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.

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