Northern Territory announces free registration for electric vehicles as part of wider strategy

A five-year plan from the NT Government will introduce financial incentives for the purchase of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The Northern Territory Government has released its five-year plan outlining the shift to electric vehicles (EVs), which includes the withdrawal of registration fees.

The measure is one of seven priority items listed in the strategy, along with the reduction of stamp duty and policies encouraging the uptake of EVs within government and rental fleets.

Fully-electric and plug-in hybrid models – the latter of which typically allow zero-emissions driving for up to 50 kilometres – are considered EVs, but traditional hybrid and mild-hybrid cars are not included.

From July 2022, EV buyers will enjoy free NT registration and a $1500 reduction in stamp duty – effectively removing the cost of stamp duty for electric models costing up to $50,000.

“Actions in the Implementation Plan have been directly influenced by feedback from the community, including 79 per cent of respondents supporting the NT Government encouraging EV use and 77 per cent agreeing that now is the right time to encourage EV use,” NT Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics and Renewables and Energy Eva Lawler said at the announcement.

“Responding to climate change will not only help us protect our environment, but will support this new industry and the jobs that come with it.”

The move means Australians receive some level of financial incentive for buying a battery-powered car, no matter where they reside.

Other incentives named in the plan include the development of a grants program for electric vehicle chargers, as well as facilitating and supporting the expansion of EV charging infrastructure.

The Territory has the lowest number of electric cars of any Australian jurisdiction, with only 38 EVs registered at the end of 2020 – but also enjoys the highest proportion of chargers per electric car.

Hydrogen power, which has long been touted by pundits as a viable solution for long-range zero-emissions driving, was dismissed by the NT Government as impractical for the time being, due to constraints regarding refuelling infrastructure and the supply of hydrogen.

“Our initial view is that the Northern Territory’s package is a very simple and pragmatic way to promote the expansion of EVs across the territory,” said Tony Weber, Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

“We commend the [NT] Government for this and look forward to working with them to expand plans to enhance the uptake of low-emission vehicles into the future.”

While plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicle buyers will save money on registration and stamp duty in the interim, a road-user charge will also be considered by the government – following the lead of both Victoria and New South Wales, who brought in the measure as a way of recuperating lost revenue from the fuel excise.

The NT Government also has announced plans to purchase 200 electric vehicles by 2030, making up 20 per cent of its fleet.

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