Just a day after the Victorian Opposition criticised the State Government's $35million subsidy of Toyota's Hybrid Camry project, the Premier Mr Brumby has today announced a $100 registration rebate for Victorian motorists registering hybrid and electric vehicles.
This is a doubling of the $50 rebate offered over the past two years.
Premier John Brumby said that doubling the rebate will provide additional incentives for people to look to hybrids and EVs when buying a new car.
“Our $50 rebate, which has been available for the past 2 years has resulted in more than 6500 registered hybrid cars,” Mr Brumby said.
“Hybrid vehicles make a significant contribution to reducing our carbon footprint, producing lower emissions than standard engine technologies, reduced fuel consumption and reduced demand for oil."
Mr Brumby hailed the previous $50 rebate as the motivation behind thousands of hybrids being registered in Victoria.
The announcement follows news last August that the Victorian State Government has teamed with the Renault-Nissan alliance to identify potential issues that may delay the wide scale uptake of battery-electric vehicles, principally the recently-revealed Nissan LEAF EV.
The Victorian Government is also among the few members of Mitsubishi's i-MiEV Foundation Group, which will see 40 of the carmaker's electric i-MiEV vehicles tested and showcased in Australia to drive interest in electric vehicles.
With a Victorian election due on November 27 this year, and things heating up politically, there may be something more to Mr Brumby's timing of this announcement.
In a press release posted yesterday that will not have enamoured Toyota Australia, the Victorian Shadow Minister for Manufacturing, Mr Ryan Smith, described the Camry as a "hybrid flop" and the Victorian Government's subsidy of the project as $35million of "self-promoting photo opportunities”.
"The heavily-subsidised Toyota Hybrid Camry has failed to attract private car buyers, despite a climate of booming car sales, with fewer than 3,000 Toyota Hybrid Camrys sold."
“This means that the Victorian taxpayer has paid around $12,000 for every Toyota Hybrid Camry sold,” Mr Smith said.
There is a curious logic in arriving at that figure. Simply dividing the subsidy total by the number of cars sold to date is, of course, a distortion. The actual subsidy per car can only be calculated at the end of the model run.
Under the Green Car Innovation Fund, the Hybrid Camry project also attracted a similar subsidy from the Federal Government. As our review of the Hybrid Camry shows, it is a fine car and it is too early to be ringing the bells as Mr Smith would seem to be doing.
When the world economy drags itself out of its current malaise, the pressure that has come off energy prices will return.
Then, when barrel prices bounce back over the USD$100 mark - they are currently around USD$77 per barrel (NYMEX) - which is as inevitable as sunrise, many more Australian motorists may be looking to hybrids and diesels as a solution to escalating fuel prices.
- Tim O'Brien