The Australian capital of Canberra and its surrounding towns are offering drivers 10-year interest-free loans to help boost electric vehicle sales and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the territory. 

What is Happening? 

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has introduced zero-interest loans for its residents and drivers with the aim to boost the sales and uptake of electric vehicles. 

The government of ACT, which encompasses the national capital of Australia, Canberra, and some surrounding towns, is offering 10-year zero-interest loans of up to $15,000 for electric vehicles purchases under its sustainable household scheme. Aside from EVs, residents can also apply for interest-free loans for solar panels, battery storage technology and other sustainable equipment. 

ACT residents already enjoy a stamp duty exemption when they buy a new electric car. Together with the newly launched loan, the Australian territory aims to boost electric vehicle sales, set itself as the leader in the EV transition in the country, and to encourage more competitive prices from auto manufacturers abroad. 

“The key message here for the external audience is for automakers to say – look at Canberra, get the vehicles into the ACT,” said Shane Rattenbury, the ACT minister for water, energy and emissions reduction. “We’ve got a keen market here. We know people want to purchase these vehicles. We need to see more models at lower prices.”

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The federal Australian government however, has yet to take any ambitious steps to boost electric vehicle sales to help curb greenhouse gas emissions in the country. In early November, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison pledged USD$132 million investing in hydrogen refuelling and charging stations for electric vehicles, but avoided introducing any rebates of EVs or set targets to phase out fossil fuel cars as part of the country’s decarbonisation plan. 

“We will not be forcing Australians out of the car they want to drive or penalising those who can least afford it through bans or taxes,” Morrison said in a statement. “Instead, the strategy will work to drive down the cost of low and zero emission vehicles.”

While Australia made its long-awaited net-zero pledge in October, targeting carbon neutrality by 2050, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions have shown signs of increasing. A report published at the end of November found that emissions rose in the June quarter by about 2% as pollution from the electricity sector and transport increased. The transport sector also remains to be the third largest source of carbon emissions in the country. 

Many industry groups and climate activists argue that rebates and tax breaks are necessary to encourage people making the switch to electric cars.

Australia’s opposition party has recently unveiled a new climate policy, which included a national electric vehicle strategy that will see an exemption on import tariffs that would save motorists more than $2,000. The Labour plan is said to reduce emissions by 43% compared to 2005 levels by 2030.