Australia proposes vehicle emissions standards

Nation seeks to join EU and US in reducing average emissions per vehicle over time

Australia proposes vehicle emissions standards
Australia wants to widen the range of EVs available to consumers

The Australian government has proposed new vehicle fuel efficiency standards which industry groups say will help spur the uptake of EVs across the country.

The standards will set a maximum level of carbon emissions across a manufacturer’s overall new car sales.

Under the proposal, if manufacturers beat the target in any given year, they will receive credits. If they sell more polluting cars than the target, they can either buy credits from a different supplier or pay a penalty.

The maximum level of emissions will reduce steadily over time. The government is consulting on three scenarios. Under the least ambitious, passenger vehicle manufacturers must reach an average vehicle emission level of 99g CO2/km by 2029, under the central scenario 58g CO2/km by 2029, and under the most ambitious 34g CO2/km by 2029.

Currently passenger vehicles in Australia produce on average 146.5g CO2/km.

The central scenario would see the standards matching those in the US by around 2028. The more aggressive scenario sees the standards going beyond the US by 2026. 

The government has put the standards out for consultation but says the central scenario is its preferred option. That scenario will deliver abatement of 369mn t CO2 by 2050, and close to 100mn t CO2 by 2035.

Driving forwards 

The standards will help incentivise the adoption of EVs in Australia, according to Australian climate watchdog the Climate Council.

“Over time, as the fuel efficiency standard is tightened, car makers must sell higher numbers of lower and zero emissions vehicles to avoid penalties,” the body says. 

The Climate Council notes that global vehicle manufacturers do not currently offer the same range of EVs in Australia as in other parts of the world. In 2022, there were 500 EV models available globally, compared to 45 EV models available for sale in Australia.

Australian non-profit the Electric Vehicle Council says that the central scenario could lead to 100pc of new vehicle sales being electric by 2035.

“We welcome this critical next step to enable all Australians to purchase cleaner cars,” says the body.
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The fuel efficiency standards are part of a wider suite of policies designed to improve EV uptake. Last year the government began a A$500mn ($325mn) scheme to install EV chargers every 150km on major highways across the nation. 

At the end of 2023, there were around 800 ultra-fast charging locations operating across the country, supporting 2000 fast and ultra-fast charging plugs – an increase of over 70pc in a year. Another 1,000 fast charging locations are expected to come online over the next three years. 

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