Nearly two thirds of New Zealanders believe that fuel efficiency standards, recently introduced by their government, are “good policy for New Zealand”, versus just 12 per cent who disagree with the sentiment.
The polling shows that the policy, which is called “Clean Car Standards”, is popular across the political divide in New Zealand – with 62 per cent support – despite intense lobbying from the legacy auto industry which claims that Australians and New Zealanders would baulk at the reforms.
Australia’s fuel efficiency standards will be weaker than NZ’s if Toyota has its way.
The Australian government is currently working on its National Electric Vehicle Strategy, part of which is the possible introduction of fuel efficiency standards. Australia and Russia are the only OECD countries that still don’t have mandated fuel efficiency standards.
Many groups include the EV Council and The Australia Institute have been calling on the government to introduce fuel efficiency standards, which have been in place in the US and Europe for many years.
The introduction of vehicle emission standards would mean that car manufacturers would be required not to exceed an emissions cap across all new vehicles sold in a year. This forces manufacturers to increase the volume of EVs they sell to get their average emissions per vehicle down.
However Australia’s fuel efficiency standards may be much weaker than New Zealand’s if Toyota has its way.
Critics slammed Toyota last month after the Australian government published submissions to its National Electric Vehicle Strategy showing that Toyota was calling on the government to include loopholes such as “super credits” and “off-cycle credits” that can obscure manufacturers’ true emissions.
As the world rapidly moves to electric vehicles, Toyota’s stubbornness to embrace change meant that just 0.2% of its total global production was EVs in 2022. With nothing to offer people wanting to make the switch to EVs, Toyota aims to slow down the transition away from fossil fuelled vehicles to protect their market share of polluting vehicles.
At the time, Global consumer group Ekō (formerly SumOfUs), said that Toyota’s submission shows it wants to keep Australia stuck in the petrol powered dark ages.
Ekō campaigner Nish Humphreys said “Australians don’t want to sacrifice our air quality and the safety of our climate so that Toyota can retain a market to keep dumping its outdated technology”
“We need ambitious, mandatory fuel efficiency standards to stop big car markers like Toyota from fuelling the climate crisis.” Humphreys said.
Many critics say that Australia should follow the New Zealand model which doesn’t include any super credits or off-cycle credit loopholes.
Australia should follow New Zealand, not Toyota
CEO of the Australian Electric Vehicle Council Behyad Jafari says the New Zealand polling shows how easy and popular the introduction of strong fuel efficiency standards would be in Australia.
“Australia is one of the last developed nations on earth not to introduce fuel efficiency standards and this polling shows the government has nothing to fear from quickly catching up,” Mr Jafari said.
“It’s easy for fossil fuel car lobbyists to claim Australians would dislike a policy when it’s all hypothetical. What the New Zealand experience proves is that once the standards are introduced, people embrace them.
“There was a scare campaign against fuel efficiency standards in New Zealand when they were introduced and it quickly disappeared once reality set in.
“The Australian Government should have introduced fuel efficiency standards many years ago. If this had happened we would have tens of thousands more EVs on the road and Australian drivers would not be waiting months, or years, to take delivery of their new electric vehicles.” he said.
“There is no reason to delay further. We need the federal government to announce strong fuel efficiency standards this year to help accelerate Australia’s transition to an electric fleet.
EV policy expert Audrey Quicke from the Smart Energy Council recently wrote an article for The Driven emphasising the importance of getting the policy right.
“Getting it right means implementing strong, robust fuel efficiency standards without loopholes or lengthy phase-in periods,” she said.
“These standards, called for in an overwhelming number of submissions, would require vehicle manufacturers to limit average emissions across their vehicle fleet – reducing carbon emissions and fuel costs and getting more electric models into the Australian market.
“Getting it right also means setting a date for the phase out of fossil fuelled vehicles, electrifying our bikes and public transport, and removing perverse tax breaks that encourage the purchase of utes, the increased uptake of which is counteracting the emissions benefits from electric vehicle sales.”
Daniel Bleakley is a clean technology researcher and advocate with a background in engineering and business. He has a strong interest in electric vehicles, renewable energy, manufacturing and public policy.