BMW has called on the Federal Government to offer tax relief for buyers of electric cars.
BMW has called on the Federal Government to offer tax relief for buyers of electric cars. Queensland Government

BMW ups the voltage on government electric vehicle policy

BMW's attack on the Federal Government's lack of electric vehicle policy has ramped up.

The German company's local chief executive officer has launched a fresh broadside at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government for sitting idle.

BMW Australia boss Marc Werner wants the government to abolish stamp duty and deliver GST relief on electric cars to bolster sales.

Chief beneficiary of such relief would be the brand's i3 electric hatch - an updated version was released this week priced from just under $69,000. The stablemate i8 sports coupe is $300,000-plus.

"We need to see some action or Australia will continue to lag behind the rest of the world," he says.

BMW i3s electric hatch: Update released this week, from just under $69,000.
BMW i3s electric hatch: Update released this week, from just under $69,000.

"Things like strong electric vehicle targets, CO2 emission targets, extended charging infrastructure and tax incentives … that all works in other countries, why not Australia?"

Provocative comments aren't new from BMW - Werner's previously calls on the government to take action have yet to inspire action.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has publicly stated his support for the electric car industry and believes there will a one million EVs on our roads by 2030.

Coalition backbenchers have been less enthusiastic, arguing the new breed of vehicle is no greener than petrol or diesel vehicles.

A Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development report released in 2016 found the high reliance on coal-fired power in Victoria, NSW and Queensland meant electric vehicles charged on the grid in those states "have a higher CO2 output than those emitted from the tailpipes of comparative petrol cars".

Electric cars accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of sales in Australia last year. Combined with hybrids, the figure hovers about 1 per cent of the total market.

BMW i8 sports coupe: A $300,000-plus proposition.
BMW i8 sports coupe: A $300,000-plus proposition.

Frydenberg wants to stay ahead of the curve. "I think they will be to the transport sector what the iPhone has been to the communication sector," he told ABC radio earlier this year.

Recent motor shows indicate the big makers are backing electric power. Marketing talk is quickly becoming reality, as shown by brands such as Tesla, BMW, Volvo and Hyundai.

Werner cites the likes of Norway and Malaysia as countries showing how quickly the market for electric vehicles can grow and says taxpayers should help subsidise a beneficial technology.

"The BMW brand is not prepared to wait. Our future is clearly electrified vehicles," he says.

BMW Australia boss Marc Werner: “Future is clearly electric.”
BMW Australia boss Marc Werner: “Future is clearly electric.”

"I'm still optimistic. BMW started with the rollout of the 'i' brand in 2014 and we'll continue to do so.

"We need the buy-in from government. There is a growing awareness for electric vehicles but if you do not have a government that actually supports this technology then we will continue to struggle."

Last year, the Queensland Government launched its Electric Super Highway, designed to enable zero or low emission vehicles to travel from the Gold Coast to Cairns and from Brisbane to Toowoomba.

The initial phase of the project is complete, with the installation of 17 "green" charging stations (bought through green energy credits or offsets). Charging will be free until next year.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey hailed the scheme as an ambitious vision but says, "this shift is happening around the world and unfortunately Australia is lagging behind".