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Major change coming for Aussie drivers

Australia will finally be catching up when it comes to reducing carbon emissions from motor vehicles.

Australia remains one of the few developed countries who don't have a Fuel Efficiency Standard, but all that will soon change for the better.

On Wednesday, the federal government committed to introducing the standard in Australia, with a draft to be prepared by the end of the year.

It's a move that many organisations have backed, including the NRMA who agree the decision will help provide greater access and affordability to lower or zero-emission vehicles like hybrid and electric cars.

A photo of an Australian highway. The government has committed to introducing a Fuel Efficiency Standard.
Introducing a Fuel Efficiency Standard in Australia could drastically reduce our transport emissions and lead to more electric vehicles. Source: Getty

“It is the NRMA’s view that if we adopt sensible standards we can give more choice to Australians looking to buy affordable, fuel efficient vehicles – while at the same reducing our reliance on imported fuel and delivering a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions," NRMA Group CEO Rohan Lund said in a statement.

Why are we getting a Fuel Efficient Standard?

On average, new cars in Australia use 40 per cent more fuel than the EU, 20 per cent more than the US and 15 per cent more than New Zealand, the report says.

So according to the strategy, introducing the standard will encourage car manufacturers to supply more environmentally friendly cars that require little or zero fuel to Australia.

"The technology continues to improve and electric vehicles around the world are available in more segments, like utes and more SUVs or cheaper electric vehicles, but often they're just not brought to Australia," Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari told AAP.

Manufacturers that failed to meet their carbon emissions cap — which is yet to be announced — would face fines.

A photo of an electric car charging station.
The new strategy could see more electric car chargers and improve accessibility. Source: Getty

What will the strategy entail?

While several initiatives have already been introduced like 117 EV chargers on major highways, New Energy Apprenticeships and New Energy Skills Programs, subsidies and green car loans, the recent announcement includes other elements which will help make EV even more accessible.

New initiatives include:

  • Having a Fuel Efficiency Standard

  • More and more accessible charging infrastructure including for those living in multi-level buildings

  • Moves to support battery recycling

  • Funding to support EV guidance, demonstrations, and training for emergency workers

Some details still yet to be revealed

Although many are in support of the strategy, some undisclosed details have brought up questions.

“For the most part, the strategy is good news and it’s a big day when we can say we have hastened the end of oil. However, it also misses a few opportunities such as by not setting a phase-out date for petrol and diesel vehicles," Professor Peter Newman from the Sustainability Policy Institute at Curtin University said. 

"Another important aspect of the new strategy is whether electric bikes and electric trackless trams have been given due attention as these are often overlooked in favour of electric cars, despite being an important piece of the sustainability puzzle.”

Purchasing electric buses and other light vehicles have not been discussed in detail in the new strategy, however it mentions promoting electric transport to help reduce emissions. For example, the Australian government is partnering with the Western Australian government to deliver an electric bus network in Perth in the future.

At the moment, Australia, Russia, Turkey and Indonesia are the only developed countries without a standard in place, with cars and light commercial vehicles such as buses alone contributing 60 per cent of the countries transport emissions and over 10 per cent of Australia’s total emissions. However electric vehicles could contribute to the country reaching net-zero by 2050.

with AAP

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