Second electric vehicle brand slams automotive body

Polestar has become the second electric car maker to resign from Australia's automotive lobby group.

Polestar has become the second electric car maker to resign from Australia's automotive lobby group.

second electric car maker has resigned in protest from Australia’s automotive industry group, saying it may have “irrevocably damaged consumer perception and trust” in fuel-efficiency standards with its misleading statements.

Polestar revealed its decision to withdraw from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries on Friday, just one day after Tesla slammed the organisation for making “false and misleading” comments about the impact of the government’s proposed new vehicle efficiency standards.

Together, the companies represent more than half of the electric vehicles sold in Australia in February.

The news came as the government negotiated with the automotive industry over rules that would cap vehicle emissions, expected to be introduced in January 2025.

In a letter to FCAI chief executive Tony Weber, Polestar Australia managing director Samantha Johnson said the automaker supported efforts to produce more efficient cars and reduce vehicle pollution in Australia, and the FCAI’s claims about price hikes may have misled consumers.

“The FCAI’s commentary against the proposed ‘option b’ framework of a [New Vehicle Efficiency Standard] does not represent the position of Polestar and may have irrevocably damaged consumer perception and trust in the proposed policy,” she said.

“The brand cannot in good faith continue to allow its membership fees to fund a campaign designed to deliberately slow the car industry’s contribution to Australia’s emissions reduction potential.”

Johnson said the chamber had received detailed financial modelling from S&P Global into the potential impact of the government policy but had yet to release it to FCAI members or the public.

“It appears that the FCAI has cherry-picked what it thinks will progress the position of only some members,” she said.

“Claims by the FCAI and its members of significant price hikes in response to the standard are overblown.”

Analysis by the Grattan Institute this week showed a fuel-efficiency standard could raise the average price of vehicles in Australia by 1 per cent but drivers would ultimately be better off due to lower fuel and maintenance costs.

Figures from the federal government estimated drivers would save $1000 a year on fuel by 2028 under the proposed standard.

Polestar’s withdrawal from the FCAI comes just a day after Tesla resigned from the group, saying it had “serious concerns about false and misleading public comments” and that it had referred some claims to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

In a statement, the FCAI said it had to represent the needs of more than 50 other vehicle brands and could not support a fuel-efficiency standard that may lead to “less choice and higher prices” in Australia.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Joe Rafalowicz said the FCAI protest would be welcome to consumers looking for more efficient vehicles, and urged more companies who disagreed with its stance to suspend their membership.

“The FCAI is so far out of step with the demands of Australian consumers who we know want to see cleaner, more affordable electric cars on our roads sooner,” he said.

“Car makers that are serious about climate action stand to gain nothing by associating with this increasingly irrelevant lobby group.”

Public consultation into the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard closed on Monday, and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said he and Transport Minister Catherine King would work through the submissions.

“If there’s good faith, sensible suggestions, we’ll take them on board,” he said.

“But it’s well beyond time that Australians had access to better, cheaper-to-run choices for their cars.”


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