New fuel emission standards the federal government plans to roll out across Australia next year are raising fears for the future of farm utes.
From December 2025, all new light vehicle models introduced in Australia, including utes, will need to meet tougher standards that are currently in place in Europe.
But the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) believed it could be difficult for the agricultural sector to comply, particularly in remote areas.
President David Jochinke said the Australian environment required a certain standard of vehicle, like the Toyota LandCruiser, “that most European cars don’t deliver”.
“There is no comparative alternative,” he said.
“There is no way that you can retrofit those vehicles to make them meet those emission standards.”
The federal government said the new standards would bring Australia in line with 80 per cent of the global car market.
Currently, some utes sold in Europe require the use of AdBlue, an additive that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles.
“We don’t want this to be a cost burden on agriculture,” Mr Jochinke said.
“We don’t want to see people stranded out in the middle of the outback because they’re not able to get AdBlue or don’t have a charging station.”
He said the transition to meeting the new regulations would also require planning and better infrastructure to ensure rural communities were not disadvantaged.
“It’s one thing to make an announcement. It’s another thing to actually ensure that we can deliver on it,” Mr Jochinke said.
“We need to make sure we can service these vehicles, make sure we can fuel these vehicles, and that these vehicles are equivalent to what we currently have.”
Climate activist calls for tougher standards
When farmer Peter Holding from Harden in southern NSW went to buy a new ute, he found the models with the most up-to-date, efficient motors were not available in Australia.
“I was looking at utes that might be available, and some are already in production, but they won’t be coming here for probably another four or five years because of European and American demand,” he said.
Mr Holding, who is part of lobby group Farmers for Climate Action, did not think Australia’s new fuel emissions standards went far enough.
“Australia is a small vehicle market compared to the rest of the world, so I think [the new standards are] the bare minimum,” he said.
“If we don’t go to Euro 6, then we’ll run the risk of only getting the older-style, less-efficient vehicles in this country.”
The lobby group wanted the government to strengthen fuel efficiency standards, not just emissions standards, to encourage manufacturers to sell electric utes in Australia.
“Until we meet the standards that are set in America and Europe, we won’t have many EVs coming here because they will be sent to those other markets,” Mr Holding said.
“Most people would argue that EVs have less maintenance and less fuel cost. For long-distance country drivers, that’s going to be a huge advantage.”
He said a clear direction was also needed for how other farm vehicles would be transitioned to reduce emissions in the future.
“If you go out this year and buy a $1.5 million header, you want it to be still usable in 10 or more years,” he said.
“If all of a sudden diesel isn’t available, or the rules change, there’s going to be a problem.”