Victoria’s controversial electric car road user charges are set to rise within days.
From July 1, Zero and Low Emission Vehicle road user fees will increase, with the Victorian Government Gazette listing the new rates: 2.8 cents per kilometer for electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), and 2.3 cents per kilometer for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).
This is an increase from 2.6c/km and 2.1c/km from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, representing increases of 7.7 and 9.5 per cent respectively.
The Victorian government says the average distance traveled annually by light passenger vehicles there is 13,500km, which results in a road user charge of $378 for EVs and FCEVs and a PHEV charge of $310.50 – up from $351 and $283.50, respectively.
The fees were increased on 1 July 2022 from the initial amounts of 2.5c/km and 2.0c/km respectively.
To calculate the increase, the Victorian Government uses a formula: the existing ZLEV charge rate multiplied by the all-group consumer price index (CPI) for Melbourne in the calendar year published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, divided by the CPI for the previous year.
While Victorian EV, FCEV and PHEV operators still have to pay for registration, they receive a $100 annual discount for this.
The Zero and Low Emission Vehicle Distance-Based Charge Act 2021 has been passed in Victoria to allow the state government to collect revenue from EV, FCEV and PHEV operators in lieu of fuel excise, with vehicle operators required to supply their odometer readings upon request.
It immediately received a firestorm of criticism, with 25 automakers, charging infrastructure providers, rideshare firms and environmental groups signing an open letter calling it the “worst EV policy in the world”.
The law has also been criticized for “double-dipping” with PHEV owners, who still pay fuel excise at the pump but are now hit with road user charges.
It was also criticized for its definition of “designated roads” – that is, roads on which user charges must be paid – as including highways outside Victoria, meaning drivers pay the state government even if they drive out of state.
The legislation has been criticized by the Federal Government and is currently facing a High Court challenge, with two plaintiffs arguing that only the Commonwealth Parliament can impose the excise.
Additionally, reports earlier this year said more than 240 Victorian drivers had their vehicle registrations revoked for failing to pay charges, with one owner saying their registrations were revoked without their knowledge.
Victoria is still the only state to impose a road user charge: South Australia abolished its tax before it was due to be introduced, while New South Wales has passed legislation introducing the tax but will not impose it until 1 July 2027.
The higher road user charges come as Victoria prematurely ends its $3000 electric vehicle subsidy, which will cease to exist from June 30 this year.
It was supposed to last until May 2024, but the state’s mounting debt caused it to end the program early.
Not only are subsidies terminated and road user charges increased, but energy prices are also expected to increase from July 1.