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 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.