Fears Grow as Australia Lags Behind in Implementing Fuel Efficiency Standards for Cars

There are increasing concerns that Australia will continue to be a destination for dirty and inefficient vehicles unless the federal government enacts laws to limit the carbon emissions of new cars sold in the country. Despite discussions that began 15 years ago, Australia remains one of the few industrialized markets without fuel efficiency standards. The government has engaged in discussions with environmental groups and car manufacturers to determine the specifics of the policy, including the timeframe for phasing out petrol and diesel-powered cars, penalties for non-compliance, and incentives for manufacturers.

However, the debate surrounding these standards has become divisive, with electric vehicle company Tesla and the Climate Council accusing Australia’s largest car lobby of pushing a policy that creates a “loophole” and could hinder the transition to cleaner vehicles. Currently, electric cars account for only 6% of new car sales in Australia, with smaller sedans being the most popular models. In contrast, high-emitting petrol-powered utes, 4WDs, and SUVs dominate the Australian market.

One of the main arguments against fuel efficiency standards in Australia is the higher cost of electric vehicles compared to traditional cars, as well as the long waitlists for electric vehicles. However, the federal government contends that implementing these standards will increase the availability of electric cars and ultimately lower prices. Additionally, about 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from passenger cars, making it essential to address the issue of carbon emissions in the transportation sector.

The proposed fuel efficiency standards would require manufacturers to achieve an overall emissions target for all the new cars they sell. Over time, these targets would become more stringent, with the ultimate goal of phasing out petrol and diesel cars. Europe and the United Kingdom aim to achieve this target by 2035, while the UK has set a more ambitious goal of 2030. The National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) supports a target of 2035 and suggests that it may be achievable even earlier as more electric vehicles enter the market.

However, there is a division in opinion regarding the use of “multiplier credits” in the proposed policy. These credits allow manufacturers to count the sale of low-emission vehicles more than once, which can artificially reduce their average emissions. Tesla and the Climate Council oppose this policy, arguing that it undermines the objective of reducing carbon emissions. On the other hand, the FCAI and Toyota support the use of multiplier credits, with the NRMA suggesting that they can be beneficial when strategically applied, particularly for battery-run light commercial vehicles and 4WDs.

Ultimately, the implementation of fuel efficiency standards in Australia is crucial in reducing the environmental impact of cars on the country’s roads. It is expected that the federal government will release the final policy in the near future, which will determine the winners and losers in the automotive industry as well as shape Australia’s transition to a more sustainable transportation sector.

– Fuel efficiency standards: Regulations or policies that aim to limit the carbon emissions and improve the energy efficiency of vehicles.
– Carbon emissions: The release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.
– Petrol: Gasoline used as fuel for internal combustion engines.
– Diesel: A type of fuel that is heavier and has a higher energy density than petrol, commonly used in diesel engines.
– Electric vehicles: Vehicles powered by electricity stored in batteries, eliminating the need for fossil fuel combustion.
– Greenhouse gas emissions: Gases that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, contributing to global warming and climate change.

– ABC News: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-12/fuel-efficiency-standards-lag-in-australia-for-electric-cars/100526928
– Griffith University: https://www.griffith.edu.au/transport-future/our-people#middle_banner_products
– National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA): https://www.mynrma.com.au/cars-and-driving/advice/fuel-and-emissions/electric-vehicles