Here Are the Rules for P-platers Driving Electric Cars

Here Are the Rules for P-platers Driving Electric Cars

Did you know that some electric cars aren’t legally driveable by P-platers in some states? It shouldn’t be all that surprising, as rules for overpowered and oversized cars depending on your licence long predate the arrival of companies like Tesla and Polestar, but it’s still something worth keeping in mind if you’re going to be letting your P-plater son or daughter drive the family Model Y around.

Now, the restrictions are quite simple, and there are dozens of electric cars that clear the legal restrictions with ease, so we are giving you a guide to the rules, and pinpointing some electric car models that aren’t legally driveable by P-platers. Let’s dive in.

What is the law stopping P-platers from driving some EVs?

Only in some Australian states P-platers are limited by how powerful their cars can be. In the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Western Australia, there are no car performance restrictions, provided drivers are registered for the class of vehicle they’re controlling.

In New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland, it’s a different story, be the driver a P1 or P2 licence holder (though learner drivers are excluded from these restrictions).

Broadly across these states, P-platers are not allowed to drive any car that surpasses 130kW per tonne of curb weight (though there are specific laws state by state that may introduce additional hurdles).

The Tesla Model 3. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

There’s an extremely simple calculation for this. Get your motor kW figure, divide it by the weight of the car, and then multiply that resulting number by 1,000.

For the Tesla Model 3 AWD Long Range, which is legally not driveable by P-platers in these states, that looks like:

340kW ÷ 1840kg x 1000 = 184kW/tonne.

The standard Tesla Model 3 RWD Long Range, the cheapest Tesla in Australia, does clear the 130kW/tonne power threshold:

220kW ÷ 1777kg x 1000 = 123kW/tonne.

Similarly, the MG4 XPower doesn’t clear the threshold, at 177kW, while the standard Excite 64 trim does, at 91kW/tonne.

NSW actually has an extremely handy resource for checking if your car is legal for P-platers or not, and I’d highly recommend using it if you’re not confident in your own calculation (though obviously be aware of differences in state rules).

Naturally, there are some other standard rules that we need to note. If the motor has been in any way tampered with to increase performance, then it’s off the cards. Additionally, if it’s listed as a specifically prohibited vehicle in the state of use, then the answer’s quite obvious: nope.

And, in some cases, you may be able to apply for an exemption – here’s more information on that for NSW drivers, Victorian drivers, South Australian drivers, and Queenslander drivers.

A good rule of thumb that you can apply comes down to if ‘performance’ is the focus or not, which usually leans in more to AWD models. If it’s an AWD EV, which such cars usually coupled to two motors with one on each axle, then it’s unlikely to be driveable by most P-platers. If it’s FWD or RWD and has a single motor, then there’s a good chance you can drive it.

The cheapest EV in the country, the GWM Ora Standard Range, clears the restriction easily, with an 81kW/tonne figure. The Subaru Solterra also clears the restriction at 82KW/tonne (while being an AWD EV!).

But you’re obviously not going to have much luck with expensive, performance-oriented models, such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, at 156kW/tonne.

Please drive responsibly!

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

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