Tough new petrol standards will be introduced at the end of 2025, potentially increasing the cost of fuel while expanding consumer access to leading-edge, mostly European, ultra-efficient vehicles.

In changes Labor said would also slash 18 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by 2050 – equivalent to taking 280,000 cars off the road – the government aims to spur greater imports of vehicles that car makers currently do not sell in Australia because the fuel is too dirty for their highly calibrated engines.

The new rules mean cars and light commercial vehicles sold from December 2025 will need to meet so-called “Euro 6d noxious emissions standards”. Years in the making, they are separate to a push by the government to introduce a “fuel efficiency standard” that would force car makers to sell more EVs by imposing penalties on the sales of higher-emitting vehicles such as utes, SUVs and four-wheel-drives.

Department of Climate Change, Energy and Environment officials estimated last year that limiting environmentally harmful levels of “aromatic hydrocarbons” in high-octane petrol would cost about $216 million, around half of which would be from higher imported fuel prices.

The government said the cost to consumers would be around 1¢ per litre, but the benefit of cleaner, more efficient cars would save $6.1 billion in health and fuel costs by 2040.

“Noxious emissions produced by vehicles contributed to more than 1700 deaths in Australia in 2015 – 42 per cent more deaths than the road toll for that year,” said Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Transport Minister Catherine King on Friday.

Labor said the move would bring Australia in line with 80 per cent of the global car market, including the US, Canada, the EU, Britain, Japan, China, Korea and India.

“The Albanese government has a laser-like focus on bringing down transport costs and emissions,” Mr Bowen said.

“These updates to our vehicle standards will see almost 18 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions cut from the transport sector by 2050 – equivalent to taking 280,000 cars off the road.”

The claim is based on Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics research which assumes new Euro 6d vehicles are on average 3 per cent more fuel efficient than Euro 5 vehicles. Euro 5 has been the Australian standard since late 2013.

Transport’s share of Australia’s roughly 450 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions is set to grow from about 19.7 per cent in 2023 to 26.3 per cent at the end of the decade.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber said the move would bring Australia closer to international standards.

“This is a necessary step,” he said. “Automotive manufacturers have been calling for an improvement to Australia’s fuel quality standards for more than a decade”.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Catherine King said the changes would save lives.

“The changes, along with fuel efficiency standards are part of delivering cleaner, cheaper-to-run cars and tackling transport costs for Australian families and businesses,” said Ms King.

“Tightening Australia’s noxious emissions standards will prevent deaths caused by toxic air pollution.”

“Noxious emissions contribute to strokes, respiratory illnesses and cancer and equivalent standards have already been introduced in countries such as the US, China, India and Japan.”

The government said it would work with industry and consumer groups to communicate the changes to motorists before the improved fuel standard comes into effect.


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