Motorists will be promised new policies to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles in a federal move to examine fuel efficiency standards and lift barriers that have been blamed for keeping popular overseas cars out of Australia.
The decision clears the way for updated rules that could encourage global car makers to sell more EVs in the local market, with Volkswagen Australia chief executive Paul Sansom saying he was struggling to convince his parent company to supply more vehicles under the existing regime.
“We are experiencing significant cost-of-living challenges. And giving Australians better access to options which allow them to never lift the nozzle on a petrol pump again is a good cost-of-living measure,” Bowen says in an extract from a speech to be delivered on Friday.
The minister will tell the National Electric Vehicle Summit in Canberra that existing fuel efficiency standards are limiting freedom of choice in the market because they create a barrier to the wider adoption of vehicles that do not need petrol or diesel.
“We believe that now is the time to have an orderly and sensible discussion about whether vehicle fuel efficiency standards could help improve the supply of electric vehicles into the Australian market, to address the cost-of-living impacts of inefficient cars, and to reduce emissions from the transport sector,” he says.
Bowen says Australia is the only OECD country apart from Russia to not have, or be in the process of developing, fuel efficiency standards.
“It is clear what needs to be done, we don’t need more reviews or consultations. We just need to get on with it,” she said in a statement on Thursday.
The Australia Institute issued a call for the standards last week, saying consumers would have saved $5.9 billion on fuel costs if the government had updated the standards in 2015 and cut carbon emissions in the transport sector.
“What they are saying is that unless you’re going to tell me we’re going to get a whacking great fine from the Australian government, I’m sending [EVs] to the EU markets. I’m sending them to the US, I’m sending them to China, where I’m gonna get punitive fines for not hitting those [emissions reductions] targets.”
He said the standards were in keeping with the government’s broader climate goals because unless the nation’s fleet was electrified quickly, Labor would not be able to meet its net zero target.
The industry’s peak body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, recently adopted a voluntary emissions standard, but Volkswagen, which has an aggressive global EV strategy, is pushing for the government to make it compulsory.
State energy ministers including Victoria’s Lily D’Ambrosia and NSW’s Matt Kean are also expected to address the summit, along with Tesla chair Robyn Denholm and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes.
Extracted in full from: Electric vehicles: Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen revs up debate on fuel efficiency standards (smh.com.au)