Australia sets sights on major EV industry boost

Australia is to introduce new standards targeting vehicle emissions which it hopes will significantly increase the uptake of electric cars.

The new national electric vehicle strategy will introduce a fuel efficiency standard that will outline how much carbon dioxide a car will produce when running, energy minister Chris Bowen said.

Labor claims the deal, still undergoing consultation, will lead to more people buying EVs.

“Fuel-efficient and electric vehicles are cleaner and cheaper to run – today’s announcement is a win-win for motorists,” Bowen said in a statement.

Details would be finalised in the coming months, he added.

Bowen added that Russia and Australia are the only two developed nations in the world without fuel efficiency standards, which meant car manufacturers were incentivised to send higher-polluting vehicles to Australia because they could not be sold elsewhere.

“Fuel efficiency standards would require more affordable electric vehicles to be sent to Australia,” Bowen said.

“In other countries there’s a much bigger range of electric vehicles available for people. We want people of all walks of life, regardless of their income, to have the chance to consider buying an electric vehicle.”

He said car company executives had told him they could not convince their global boards to send more fuel efficient vehicles to Australia. 

On average, new cars in Australia use 40% more fuel than in the European Union, 20% more than the United States, and 15% more than New Zealand. Just 3.8% of cars sold in Australia last year were electric, well behind other developed economies such as Britain and Europe, where electric cars made up 15% and 17% of sales, respectively.

Transport is also the third largest source of carbon emissions in Australia – one of the world’s biggest emitters on a per capita basis. The initiative will help cut the country’s emissions by at least 3 million tonnes of carbon by 2030, and over 10 million tonnes by 2035, Bowen said.

The Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) welcomed the move but said Australia must bring in strong standards or “remain the world’s dumping ground for dated, high-emission vehicles,” according to CEO Behyad Jafari.