ICE lobby strikes out against car emissions standards

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Car industry kicks back against emissions standards proposed for light vehicles, underscores uphill battle of shift to EVs.

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Australia’s car industry lobby has launched a major new kick-back against car emissions standards being proposed for light vehicles in Australia, underscoring the uphill battle the nation faces in the shift to electric vehicles.

The Murdoch papers on Thursday reported dire warnings from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries that an emissions standard being “actively considered” by the Turnbull government would take some of the nation’s highest selling cars out of the market.

And, as usual, the paper did not have to go far to find an LNP member who was equally outraged. In this case, it found Nationals senator John Williams, who vowed to resist any new standard that stopped rural and regional Australians from buying their vehicle of choice.

“This might be all well and good to save the planet in someone’s eyes, but to me an electric vehicle out on a station, on a farm, would be totally useless,” Williams told the Australian.

The Oz report – headlined “Carbon laws ‘to drive top cars off the road’” – is just the latest manifestation of an industry tantrum, first triggered when the Turnbull government made vague noises about joining the rest of the world in trying to rein in vehicle emissions.

As reported here, the introduction of a CO2 light vehicle emissions standard of 105g/km to apply to all new vehicles sold in 2025 was first aired by government in July 2017.

Currently Australia has no standard for light vehicle emissions, and no other incentives to encourage consumers to buy cleaner cars. It stands unique in the western world for its lack of standards on car emissions, or most other emissions for that matter.

An issues paper supported the proposed standard, which according to the government’s own modelling could save consumers $519 per year in fuel costs.

Still, the Turnbull government was immediately forced to mollify a rabid car lobby and some of its own more conservative Coalition party members, after the proposed emissions standard was labeled a “carbon tax on cars.”

This latest bout of industry outrage warns that the emissions standard would hit car makers and consumers, buy removing all but two of the nation’s top selling cars – most of them big utilities and SUVs.

The Australian quotes the CEO of the FCAI, Tony Weber, as saying manufacturers would be unable to meet the target while continuing to sell the cars Australians wanted to buy at prices they were willing to pay.

“If such a scheme was put in place, manufacturers will either have to restrict the supply of vehicles with higher CO2 outputs, or pay fines which ultimately will be borne by consumers,” he said.

And from government, it has prompted a similar response as the last outcry.

Cities minister Paul Fletcher – who heads up the government’s Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions with energy minister Josh Frydenberg – has reportedly assured the policy is yet to be finalised, and that any decision would “place ­savings for Australians front and centre”.

Meanwhile, the latest IEA Global Electric Vehicle Outlook report, freshly published on Wednesday, paints a picture – albeit a rather conservative one – of a world that is shifting to electric vehicles, whether Senator Williams likes it or not.

The IEA sees the number of light electric vehicles on the road globally reaching 125 million by 2030 on business as usual; or 220 million with a bit of added policy ambition – 130 million battery electric and 90 million plug-in hybrids, respectively.

By comparison, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest forecasts see 559 million EVs on the world’s roads by 2040, by which time they would be making up 55 per cent of all new car sales globally, having become cheaper to make than internal combustion engine cars by 2030.

But as both the BNEF and IEA reports note, strong policy support will be a major determining factor of how quickly – and painlessly – the shift to EVs happens.

And strong policy support for electric vehicles requires governments with strong backbones, able to withstand the lobbying of powerful vested interest groups that extend from the factory, to the salesroom floor, to the petrol pump, and beyond.

And right now in Australia, the Turnbull government is being put to the test.

“The government keeps pushing out the deadline for action on emissions standards, begging the question of who is actually writing their policy,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens transport spokesperson, in comments on Thursday.

“Eighty percent of the world car market already has light vehicle emissions standards. Any weakening of the 105g/km target or delay to the 2025 implementation date as recommended by the government’s own ministerial forum will show that the Turnbull government is completely in the pockets of big business when it comes to energy and transport policy.

“If Ministers Fletcher and Frydenberg cave in to the car manufacturers’ scare campaign, motorists won’t see the over $500 per year in average fuel savings, we’ll see millions of tons of extra pollution pumped into the atmosphere and our reliance on oil imports from overseas will continue to increase,” Rice said.

“Unless the Turnbull government acts fast, Australia will continue to be the global dumping ground for inefficient, polluting gas guzzlers.”

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24 Comments
  1. Chris Drongers 6 months ago

    The Australian’s article on possible 105 gCO2/km fuel standard across the whole of sales was one of the articles most full of non-sequiters in recent times. So HiLuxs and Rangers won’t meet the fleet standard? As long as the rest of the fleet undershoots 105g by some margin then the HiLux and Ranger can still be sold. People want big utes and SUVs but this is a recent thing driven by high incomes, cheap fuel, perceptions of safety and fashion. Push fuel prices up to 2008 levels, require SUVs to meet pedestrian crash survivability standards and make electric cars sexy, then big utes will go back to being the trade vehicle they should be.
    Further on in the same paper Maurice Neuman claims single weather events of a single high temperature in western Sydney in the 1930’s and a single cool summer in Western Australia as a strong indication that climate change is not happening. seriously his thinking cannot be that shallow ?

    • john 6 months ago

      The person you mention is an IDIOT frankly when it comes to Science MN would know how to read a temperature gauge on his mobile let alone understand any of the science.

    • Joe 6 months ago

      Maurice Newman has just auditioned to be Australia’s next Chief Scientist. Abbott, Joyce, Kelly have approved his appointment….. I’m being sarcastic. Oh, wait, it couldn’t happen or could it?

  2. john 6 months ago

    The pathetic country does not have standards that is why anything being written by the rotten Murdoch Media should be put in the bin

    • Joe 6 months ago

      The Rupert and his newsrags always salivate over stories where they can demonise anything connected to renewable energy. I loved the piece in Rupe’s Sydney rag The Daily Telegraph last Tuesday. All of a sudden AGL and Andy Vessey are being taken to task for being Australia’s highest greenhouse gas emitter. This from Rupe’s mob that want COAL 4 EVER, never have a positive thing to say about renewable energy and just plain don’t believe the science of climate change.

      • Abel Adamski 6 months ago

        You mean that Rupert, the substantial investor in fossil fuel interests and also a major shareholder in Genie Oil along with his bestie friend Baron Rothschild

    • rob 6 months ago

      SOZ BUT bugger off …..it should never be printed……waste of ink and paper

  3. Joe 6 months ago

    They don’t nickname him, John Williams, ‘Wacko’ for nothing.

  4. Gyrogordini 6 months ago

    Haven’t been able to read the Strayan’s article as I refuse to support his paywall, so this is a bit blind.
    Without adoption of the vehicle standards being implemented in the rest of the OECD world – and beyond – Australia will continue to be a dumping ground – and laughing stock – for the rubbish vehicles that Aussies can’t get enough of.
    Our fuel standards are a joke – if you can get over the short amount of shipping-dependent supply throughout the country; and many low emission vehicles cannot be sold here, because our fuel is of such poor quality.
    Let’s all put our fingers in our ears, and hope the world goes away…

    • ken 6 months ago

      Here’s a link to that article in an archive: http://archive.li/p7KWQ

      • Gyrogordini 6 months ago

        Thanks, Ken!

  5. Graeme McLeay 6 months ago

    Ambient air pollution causes about 3,000 premature deaths per year, about half of it from transport. Do they really believe they can go on contributing to cardiovascular and respiratory deaths when the solution is at hand?

    • Joe 6 months ago

      It’s one of those public subsidies that Big FF holds it’s hand out to collect but never acknowledges. At the same time Big FF and all of its boosters bleat on about subsidies that RE receives

  6. Ken Dyer 6 months ago

    Of course the LNP COALition and the Murdoch morons do not want fuel standards.

    They would prefer the foreign companies drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight and dig coal out of the biggest coal mines in the world.

    Never mind the environment, let’s just make money to add to the billions they already have. They are like giant vampire squid, sucking money through their blood funnels.

    Never mind that reducing pollution by coal and oil reduces the risks to unborn children and premature death of millions.

    EV’s are arriving, the tide is turning, clean, cheap renewable energy is here.

    Election now.

  7. Hettie 6 months ago

    All too depressing.

    • solarguy 6 months ago

      Awww…….Chin up chicken, it can only get worse from here!

  8. George Darroch 6 months ago

    Even if we ignore everything else, fuel standards save Australians money. Lots and lots of it.

    They’re the least comprehensible thing for conservatives (in Australia, looncakes) to opposing.

    • Hettie 6 months ago

      But I don’t understand…..
      😆

  9. Ian Smith 6 months ago

    The really stupid thing is that the farm ute is probably the best suited to conversion to HEV or BEV, before the conversion of longer distance 4x4s. Farm vehicles barely get over 80 km/h and usually wear out 2nd gear well before 4th or 5th. The mileage over a year is really small. Their fuel consumption would easily be close to 20 l/100km with all of the paddock crawling that is done. If I was a farmer I’d be questioning why either of these vehicle options, already available in the US, are not available in Aus yet.

    • Tim Rosser 6 months ago

      No hot exhaust to start fires either.

    • Phil NSW 6 months ago

      Does this open the market for an entrepreneurial startup company to do ICE to EV conversions like petrol to gas conversions. Given the huge number of 2nd hand vehicles they could acquire for resale apart from conversion to order for those who want their own cars converted. I like Harry’s E-type.

  10. Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe 6 months ago

    Station or farm not suitable for EV you say, how backwards…

  11. RobertO 6 months ago

    Hi All, The thing that I do not understand is that if you let the market decide than sometimes the outcome is not what you expect. Take the fuel storage issue in Australia we currently have about 40 days worth so one quick way to improve it is to impose fuel efficiency standards for ICE at the same time requiring an increase in fuel volumes stored in Australia. Another simple way is to change the way we use our fuel, make remote diesel electric supplies solar supported, wind supported, or battery supported, i.e updated to RE supported.

    • Hettie 6 months ago

      Robert, those suggestions are all very sensible, but you should know by now that the present government does not do sensible.
      All the do is specifically and exclusively designed to reduce expenditure on the needy, and give handouts to the wealthy. With bonuses to anone involved in fossil fuel.
      Imposing efficiency standards on ICE vehicles would, as you say, reduce petroleum product use, so that’s out of consideration. Increasing local stores would take pressure off prices, so that’s out too. And as for replacing diesel power generation with renewables – take care. That’s blasphemy.
      The Feds will do nothing that is not in the interests of the fossil fuel lobby.
      Fortunately, some State governments are less corrupt.
      WA is getting remote communities onto renewables, with diesel relegated to backup only. ACT is committed to being 100% renewable very soon. Vic and SA are also doing well. Qld looks promising, and even NSW is going in the right direction, though too slowly. Tas is 92% hydro electric, but no action on EVs, and NT seems to be a lost cause.
      Federal Election due. Things must change.

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