More than 100 mayors and local councillors from multiple Australian states and territories have published a letter urging the federal government to overhaul the country’s electric vehicle policies.

The statement, issued on Wednesday and endorsed by 120 local government officials, called on the Albanese government to introduce fuel-efficiency standards to bring more low- and zero-emissions vehicles into the country.

The statement arrives just weeks before the May budget and months after the government received more than 500 submissions to its National Electric Vehicle Strategy paper.

Australia is among only a few major economies that do not have fuel-efficiency standards to help curb vehicle emissions.

In the statement, local government officials urged the government to introduce a standard that was mandatory, equivalent to those in other countries, that would encourage the import of more low and zero-emission vehicles, and that would be reviewed every five years.

Bendigo mayor Andrea Metcalf said a fuel-efficiency standard could help her Victorian community as it was struggling to meet its electric vehicle aims.

“The City of Greater Bendigo has a goal to transition more than 100 light fleet to electric vehicles by 2030, however we are held back by the limited options available in Australia at the right price point,” she said.

“We also know that some people in our community are in a similar position.”

Mitcham mayor Heather Holmes-Ross said the South Australian council also faced waiting periods of many months to access electric vehicles, delaying their adoption.

“The implementation of fuel-efficiency standards is essential if we are to lead our community in EV uptake,” she said.

“We all need to act without delay.”

Climate Council advocacy head Jennifer Rayner said feedback from local government organisations showed many were finding it difficult to secure large orders of electric vehicles or to find the models they needed.

Improving the supply, range and affordability of electric vehicles in Australia, she said, could have an immediate impact.

“Local councils are ready to go with the electric transition so if fuel-efficiency standards can make vehicles more available we should see quite rapid uptake of electric fleets,” she said.

“That’s really useful for cutting emissions but also increasing the supply of affordable second-hand vehicles in Australia.”

Dr Rayner said she hoped the government would act on the call and issue a detailed discussion paper on the policy within weeks.

“Ideally, the federal government would have designed and legislated fuel-efficiency standards by the end of the year so they could take effect in 2024,” she said.

A fuel-efficiency standard was one of the issues addressed in the National Electric Vehicle Strategy paper that closed to submissions in October 2022. A government response is expected before the May budget.

Extracted in full from: Mayors and councillors call for electric car change | PerthNow