Mike Stevens | Apr 19, 2010

DESPITE a growing number of partnerships between some Australian states and cities with manufacturers of electric vehicles and service providers, the Federal Government has ruled out offering incentives to buyers of hybrids and electric vehicles.

Government subsidies and rebates for green cars are becoming common practice in many overseas markets - particularly in Europe and Asia.

Speaking with Fairfax this week, Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said that the Federal Government believes the way forward lies in the development of existing technologies for petrol, diesel and LPG engines.

''Over the next decade, the most rapid and cost-effective way of improving fuel economy and building more environmentally effective cars is to adapt technologies that are being deployed now,'' Mr Carr told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Rather than offer subsidies or rebates for buyers to choose the greenest cars, the Federal Government will put $1.3 billion (through its Green Car Innovation Fund) towards the development of greener vehicles. Toyota's Hybrid Camry has been a beneficiary of this support through the Federal Government's Green Car initiative.

Mr Carr said the aim of this support is to secure Australia's automotive industry, promoting local innovation and manufacturing, and keeping people in jobs.

While Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, and even the nation's capital Canberra are working to develop infrastructure for electric vehicles, Mr Carr said the Federal Government will not take the same path.

Carmakers such as Nissan and Mitsubishi are moving quickly to be the first to offer electric vehicles in Australia. Nissan's Leaf is scheduled to make its local debut in 2012, with Nissan Australia already discussing infrastructure needs with certain cities.

"We have begun infrastructure exploratory talks with the City of Sydney on what a roll-out of infrastructure might look like,” Nissan Australia's Jeff Fisher told TMR last year.

“We are also talking to the City of Melbourne. This needs to move relatively quickly; 2012 is not that far away.

"Having the right infrastructure in place, as well as strong product offerings, will be a key confidence factor in winning consumers over to these vehicles,” he said.

Mitsubishi's i MiEV is due for imminent release, with the company aiming at corporate and government fleets for the bulk of its sales.

While it remains to be seen what price the Nissan Leaf will carry when it arrives in Australia (international prices are around AU$40,000), pricing on the iMiev is likely to be announced this week. (TMR is attending the media launch on Wednesday this week and will bring you details then.)


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