NSW green car discount plan could penalise EV drivers | RenewEconomy

NSW green car discount plan could penalise EV drivers

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A flaw in the NSW government’s car registration discount proposal could wind up penalising hybrid and EV drivers, rather than rewarding them.

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A NSW government proposal to encourage the state’s drivers to switch to safer and more environmentally-friendly cars could contain a serious design flaw that would penalise, rather than reward, hybrid and electric vehicle drivers.

The proposal, flagged by the government as the biggest changes to vehicle registration in 100 years, suggests calculating vehicle registration costs based on three categories –  weight (50%), vehicle safety (35%) and environmental credentials (15%). Safety would be determined by the vehicle’s ANCAP rating and the environmental component by the vehicle’s emissions.

According to a discussion paper published by the government, calculating registration costs in this way, instead of just by a car’s weight, could save some motorists up to $100 a year, and see owners of hybrid vehicles pay less than drivers of “muscle cars.”

”Under the new system, a new vehicle with higher safety and environmental credentials would cost less to register than a new vehicle of similar weight with lower safety and environmental credentials,” the paper states.

But the ability of the scheme to encourage motorists to shift to lower-emitting and zero emissions vehicles is being questioned, with critics arguing that the 15 per cent allocated for a car’s environmental credentials is too low in the mix, ensuring any green discounts would be easily outweighed in EVs and hyrbid electric vehicles, due to their increased battery weight.

According to the Mitsubishi website, for example, a plug-in hybrid EV Outlander weighs 380kg or 26 per cent more than a 2.0 litre ‘Standard’ Petrol Outlander, a weight difference that would need to be offset by the environment incentive.

The Tesla S, a US made prestige EV that will start being delivered to Australian customers in September, weighs somewhere between 2025kg (the 60kWh model) and 2108kg (85kWh model), while the average conventional-engine Porsche 911 weighs around half this, at 1050kg.

The discussion paper says a large 4WD with a high safety and environment rating would cost $134 less to register, an SUV with the same ratings $76 less and a small vehicle $39 less.

By contrast, registration costs for vehicles with lower safety and environment ratings would rise by as much as $26.

The NSW government is currently accepting feedback, and calling for submissions on the website for its Vehicle Registration Initiatives Discussion Paper.

The site also has a quick poll, asking whether providing registration incentives for vehicle safety or for lower emissions is more important? At time of publication, the poll’s results showed 30% of respondents favoured safety ahead of environment, 14% favoured environment, while 56% said both were equally important.

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18 Comments
  1. Pedro 6 years ago

    A fairer system would be base part of the registration costs on fuel efficiency rather than weight. CO2 emmisions/kg/km. I think registration also has a component of 3rd party insurance which pays for injuries caused by car accidents. Heavier vehicles should pay a higher registration as they are more likely to cause more serious injuries in an accident.

    • Miles Harding 6 years ago

      Good comments.

      I would expect that only looking at fuel(energy) requirements would work very well. Fuel burn is related to vehicle weight. Additional penalties would be built in for big muscle cars with large inefficient engines.

      One issue would be electric and plug-in vehicles, as the manufacturers lie about the energy requirements. The Mitsubishi PHEV Outlander being one of the worst examples I have seen. The maker advertises the fuel economy as a preposterous 1.9 L/100km.
      The same occurs with their all-electric i-Miev. The numbers on the energy star rating tag don’t sum plausibly. The real figure is between 12 and 13 kWh/100km

      Once one gets through the makers lying about the fuel economy, it is easy to calculate the fuel energy used by the vehicle by fuel type.

      One question is how to rate the plug-in electric component. This really depends on how the electricity is produced. My best guess with a mix of renewables, gas and coal, this figure would be approximately 50% efficient, making the input energy twice that consumed by the vehicle. This can be used to produce a comparable energy requirement.

      • Pedro 6 years ago

        If all vehicles get their fuel economy rating by the same standards using a 30 knot tail wind coasting down hill, then we will have to go with that. In the interim for Australia we would have to assume coal fired electricity charged the electric vehicles at least until RE sources were significant part of the energy mix as most would be charging cars at night. It seems to be getting very complicated.

        I like simple systems and perhaps rego based on weight category with a significant discount for electric cars.

        • Chris Fraser 6 years ago

          For all forthcoming EV drivers, the fuel they use to charge at night is still a choice that must be faced. I would support legislation to compel the purchase of clean energy in all EV households, but can’t find a brave enough politician to insist on it. It’s an extra 4c/kWh, with the EVs consuming 0.2kWh/km. Not a difficult choice for conscientious EV’ers.

        • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

          THere used to be a column on Treehugger called ‘Ask Pedro’ and he could have answered that question!

      • Catprog 6 years ago

        What about the input energy to make the petrol? What does that make the efficiency?

      • Mark Melocco 6 years ago

        Actually this has already been done by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For example they rate the Tesla Model S at 89 MPGe or Miles Per Gallon equivalent. That’s 2.2 l/100 Km. When my EV arrives it will be powered by 100% renewable electricity.

  2. Martin 6 years ago

    The best way to price vehicle emissions is via the fuel excise. It rewards actual fuel efficiency as well as using your car sparingly.

    • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

      But rego costs are a significant ‘price signal’ to motorist that can be easily communicated.

      • Martin 6 years ago

        No, rego costs are not a significant price signal, because 1) there is a poor relationship between official fuel efficiency ratings and actual fuel efficiency achieved; and 2) there is no relationship between rego costs and actual kilometres driven.

        • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

          I think you miss my point. It’s been shown time and again that people look at upfront purchase cost to the detriment of ongoing costs. If words gets out that these class of cars get cheaper rego people will talk about that (hopefully favorably!). When’s the last time you heard a km/fuel volume conversation in relation to fuel excise? If the allocations for rego are incorrect then correct them first of course.

          I’m not saying rego is more correct I’m saying it’s more visible, and in the world of behavioral change that is not to be underestimated.

  3. Peter Campbell 6 years ago

    Here is what the ACT does:
    http://www.rego.act.gov.au/registrations/regogreenvehschm.htm
    4 stamp duty bands according to the Green Vehicle Guide’s rating.
    Then electric vehicles get a 20% registration discount. The ACT is planning to have 90% renewable electricity so arguments about running on coal can be discounted.
    Meanwhile, I buy enough greenpower to run my electric car and the house.

  4. madankerr 6 years ago

    Thanks for this article – the subject would have slipped my notice if not for this.

  5. Jacko 6 years ago

    The Porsche 911 actually weights around 1600 kg………

  6. Martin 6 years ago

    Rego costs are a less than ideal way to reward safety if based on ANCAP ratings.

    ANCAP and Euro NCAP ratings are not necessarily a good indication for actual injury and deaths in real-life accidents. For example: “Whiplash is a very important factor when risk of disability is analysed and the largest single reason for disabling injuries in Swedish traffic (Krafft 1998). Euro NCAP is today not addressing this injury in the testing.” (ESV Paper 2001)

    Other issues with NCAP ratings are that they are based on just one model variant, chosen by the manufacturer, and that the results cannot be compared from class to class, i.e. a smaller vehicle will almost always be less safe than a larger vehicle with the same rating.

    Much better to levy a fee on drivers who have caused an accident.

    • Stu 6 years ago

      Martin. Both of your statements are incorrect. ANCAP does include whiplash. The vehicle manufacturer does not choose the variant that is tested.

      • Martin 6 years ago

        Stu. Thanks for those corrections. It appears my information on these two points was out of date. Good to see that NCAP procedures are improved over time. But, apart from the other points I mentioned, it seems that there are still some issues with how whiplash protection is measured and how model variant scores are established.

  7. Kevin Brown 6 years ago

    Road construction and maintenance costs increase exponentially with the weight of heavy vehicles that use them such as B Doubles with gross laden weights of 50 tonnes(t). the weight of light vehicles, whether they be 1.5t or 2.5t have negligible impact on pavements. I fail to see why this is a consideration in the proposed NSW rego regime? Higher ANCAP ratings should relate to less hospital admissions and health costs for the State and fuel efficiency should reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What is the point about but light vehicle weights?

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