SA Electric Vehicle Tax Bill Looms

South Australia electric car tax

Victoria and New South Wales have played their cards on “road user charges” for electric vehicles – and South Australia will soon do the same.

Last year, the South Australian government announced its intentions to introduce a road user charge for plug-in electric and zero emission vehicles. At that point, SA Treasurer Rob Lucas said the proposed charge was to include a fixed component and a variable charge based on distance travelled.

The news met with mixed reactions, but the backlash against it was strong enough for the Marshall Government to go pretty quiet on it – for a while. In February this year, a state parliamentary committee was told Victoria’s new user-charge model was being considered for South Australia.

On Tuesday, in what was Rob Lucas’s last budget before he drives off into the sunset (vehicle type unknown) and towards the end of his 11-page Budget speech, he mentioned:

“Consistent with the commitment in last year’s budget and now that legislation has passed in Victoria the government will introduce in the coming weeks its promised bill for a road user charge for electric vehicles.”

So, it won’t be long before we get to see what has been cooked up.

UPDATE 11.15 AM: According to an article from March on The Driven, Rob Lucas said the scheduled start date for whatever the Marshall Government intends attempting to implement is July 2022.

Here’s what’s happening in other states that the Marshall Government has been scrutinising.

Victoria – ZLEV Road User Charge

On the take side, Victoria’s Andrews Government has introduced a 2.5 cents per-kilometre Zero And Low-Emissions Vehicles (ZLEV) road user charge for fully electric cars and 2 cents for plug-in hybrids. The tax was described as “the worst EV policy in the world.”

The ZLEV Road User Charge information page notes:

“In the 12 months from 1 July 2021, electric vehicle registered operators could expect to pay $337.50 and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles registered operators to pay $270 in ZLEV road-user charges.”

On the give side, electric vehicles are exempt from the luxury vehicle rate of stamp duty and also benefit from a $100 annual discount on vehicle registration. More recently, a $3,000 rebate for electric cars and other zero emissions vehicles has been introduced.

New South Wales – EV RUC

The NSW government’s recently released Electric Vehicle Strategy notes a distance-based road user charge (RUC) for eligible EVs of 2.5c/km will be introduced on 1 July 2027 or when electric vehicles reach 30 per cent of new vehicle sales; whichever occurs first.

Tax cuts and incentives for electric vehicles over the next four years were also announced, which start in September.

  • stamp duty will no longer apply for eligible EVs under $78,000
  • 25,000 rebates of $3,000 each will be available for battery and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles under $68,750.

While it remains to be seen how much carrot, if any, will accompany the stick the Marshall Government wants to beat South Australian electric car owners with, it may be Rob Lucas’s role in implementing an EV tax (should it succeed) is what he is most remembered for by them.

“Economically, it’s nuts to start taxing EVs before you make conventional cars pay for all the damage they do – air pollution, climate, human health,” says SolarQuotes founder (and EV owner) Finn Peacock.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. George Kaplan says

    Shouldn’t EV taxes be far higher?

    Petrol and diesel users pay 42.7 cents a litre in fuel excise (plus GST) while heavy vehicle users also pay an additional road user charge – unless excepted due to farming, mining etc non-public road use. This taxation is reinvested in land transport projects.

    Since EV owners don’t pay petrol taxes they aren’t paying for the maintenance of the roads they’re using. I have no doubt this will be a highly unpopular post – who wants to be told they ought to pay more taxation, but what’s the alternative? Chinese style vehicle tracking and taxation\billing based on the mileage done? I can’t see big brother being popular. If such a scheme did go ahead through would such charging be done on the basis of urban\suburban\rural\regional divisions?

    • Dale Stanbrough says

      Shouldn’t ICE vehicles be taxed far higher?

      After all their contribution to bad health outcomes (around the same $ value as the fuel levy), contributing to climate change goes completely unpaid for.

      Only half of the fuel levy actually goes to paying for roads, so not only are ICE vehicles not paying for their pollution, they don’t even completely pay for the roads they drive on.

      • George Kaplan says

        Not really. Climate change is a highly controversial subject with claims regarding anthropogenic contributions still heavily disputed. Given there’s no agreement regarding the science, economic aspects are impossible to measure.

        As regards health effects i.e. air quality\pollution, that’s somewhat more measurable, however the focus seems to be exclusively on anthropogenic emissions since biogenic or geogenic are harder to control, though overlap does occur e.g. bushfire smoke (natural) versus preventative burn-off smoke (anthropogenic).

        While ICE vehicles can indeed negatively affect air quality, industry, commercial and even domestic activities can contribute. In addition soil dust in the air, spray from bodies of water, emissions from plants, and smoke may have an impact.

        If it’s of interest, for 2020 Canberra was the 2nd most polluted ‘city’ in Australia with an average rating of 16.4 µg/m³. (Albury at 17.3 was the worst but I’m not quite sure where that is) By contrast Melbourne was 8.3 and Brisbane 6.7 which is within WHO targets. Contrast that with Hotan China which average 110.2 – and hit 264 µg/m³ in March 2020 which is hazardous levels.

        You say only half the fuel levy goes to pay for roads. Where does the other half go? Are you saying petrol and diesel users are funding other things too? Or do you mean fuel taxes only cover half the cost of roads? Regardless, isn’t this still vastly more than the nil that EV users contribute? Should government consider adding an excise tax or somesuch to electricity so as to cover the costs of the roads EVs use?

    • Neil donaldson says

      I believe the fuel tax is a federal tax not a state tax. That tax is not set aside for road funding but goes into general revenue. Why would you tax a less polluting transport method more than a polluting one? All sounds like a state tax grab to me.

  2. The electirc is paying more tax per k/m than my current car.

    My Hybrid uses 4.2L per 100 km. Thats $0.427*4.2=$1.79 *110%(gst) =$1.97 in tax for 100km whereas at 2.5cents per km its 0.025*100=$2.50.

  3. Peter Pfennig says

    I live CBD Adelaide, near a Primary school. I have real health concerns for myself, my family and the health of kids, who arrive and leave with buses, delivery trucks belching along.
    An EV tax is a bit rich given the continuing pollution issues are not being addressed when EVs are becoming a pretty viable option.
    As for the levy paid on fuel, I’m pretty sure most EVs are likely to be near city use for quite some time, so contributing to maintenance of roads in our wide brown land they do not use.
    So if they feel they MUST tax this beneficial technology, at least put some measures in place to make it an even playing field such as an inner city levy on diesel delivery vehicles and buses, and use this to provide support and infrastructure for these classes of vehicle to move to EVs for our health’s sake.

  4. Sorry, pardon my ignorance but will this tax be imposed on petrol-electric hybrids such as Camry’s etc… or only where the car is plugged into a charger?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Only for plug-in hybrids and full electrics — at the moment. If they wanted to be consistent it should also apply to fuel efficient conventional internal combustion engine cars like the Suzuki Swift, but I don’t think being consistent is their goal.

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