Advocates for sustainable transportation and climate change say the centerpiece of the Albanese government’s electric vehicle EV plan hasn’t accomplished much and is still “hamstrung” six months after it was released. This is because the sector is still waiting for information regarding a fuel efficiency benchmark.
Midway through the month of April, the Australian government presented what was believed to be the country’s first ever national electric car strategy. This plan included suggestions to promote investment in charging infrastructure, assistance for apartment-dwellers who wished to buy electric vehicles, and recycling programs for large batteries.
The plan does not include any targets for the adoption of electric vehicles or specifics regarding a fuel efficiency benchmark.
Instead, the government started a consultation period to design Australia’s fuel efficiency standard. This was something that had been neglected by the Coalition, but it was initially raised by the minister of climate change and energy, Chris Bowen, in August of 2022.
A limit is placed on the total amount of emissions that can be produced by a manufacturer thanks to government-mandated fuel efficiency regulations. This offers an incentive for automakers to deliver automobiles with low or zero emissions, and it penalizes businesses who do not do so.
During the public consultation that took place in August of this year, the administration disclosed that there was “overwhelmingly” support for the establishment of a fuel efficiency requirement.
Some people are concerned that there may be a rush to implement the standard before the next federal election because of the road that must be taken to legislate the standard and provide sufficient notice prior to the date on which it will take effect.
“It’s great to see the government is speaking to stakeholders, but fundamentally [fuel efficiency standards] are in place in 85% of the world’s car market, and it should not be this complicated to design one for Australia,” she said. “[Fuel efficiency standards] are in place in 85% of the world’s car market.”
It is estimated that one million automobiles are purchased annually in Australia, the most majority of which are powered by gasoline; hence, the longer we wait, the longer we will continue to see vehicles that are dirtier and more expensive to maintain on our roads.
According to Australia’s understanding, further specifications of the proposed standard are scheduled to be released in the following weeks. The strategy is viewed as an essential component to reaching Australia’s 2030 goal of cutting emissions by 43% from the levels that they were at in 2005.
In the six months that have passed since the government’s electric vehicle strategy was made public, charging infrastructure and financing initiatives have made it possible to make some headway. However, Rayner believes that the fuel efficiency criteria is of the utmost importance.
According to Rayner, “the rest of the strategy is hamstrung until we have the fuel efficiency standard in place,” and he said this.
The absence of a fuel economy criterion in Australia has created difficulties in the local supply of electric vehicles. According to sources from the industry, new models of electric cars typically sell out within hours of being released into the market.
According to the Electric Vehicle Council, manufacturers are shifting more electric vehicles away from the Australian market so that they do not miss out on the incentives that are offered in other right-hand drive countries that have regulations. As a direct consequence of this, the council has accused automakers of “dumping” the most polluting and expensive to run vehicles onto the Australian market.
According to Richard Savoie, chief executive officer of the transportation logistics company Adiona Tech, the absence of a standard is creating uncertainty and inhibiting transportation companies from investing in electric trucks and buses. He brought up the point that the electric vehicle policy from April did not concentrate on commercial fleets.
“There are bus operators that would love to invest in low- and zero-emissions buses, but they’re afraid to invest in a fleet,” he added. “There are also bus operators that would love to invest in hybrid buses.”
“Regulation changes like this don’t happen overnight, and even after a standard is proposed, it will take time to come up with agreement, and it will take years to implement.”
According to Savoie, Australia has “gone backwards” in the previous six months when it comes to decarbonizing road transportation. This is because there has been little progress made on a fuel efficiency standard, and governments have introduced road user charges and are winding back EV discounts.
According to Behyad Jafari, chief executive of the Electric Vehicle Council, the fuel efficiency requirement is “a fundamental piece that informs all of the other work” of the electric vehicle strategy.
“The fuel efficiency standard will tell us what Australia is hoping to achieve, and the strategy [which has already been released in April] will tell us how we go about accomplishing those things,”
According to Jafari, he believes the government is taking its time to speak with the appropriate parties. He stated, “I’d like them to move faster,” while at the same time not criticizing it for doing what it was doing.
“We will now require that it be approved by parliament and put into action as soon as possible. According to Jafari, “the worry is not that we will turn into a dumping ground for expensive cars because we already are one.” “We need an ambitious standard in order to catch up with the rest of the world.”
The Minister of Transport, Catherine King, was asked for response after being contacted.