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Aussies back fuel efficiency standards as EV sales rise

Polling from the Climate Council has shown that Australians are supportive of fuel efficiency standards.

Polling from the Climate Council has shown that Australians are supportive of fuel efficiency standards. Photo: Getty

Rising sales and recent polls reveal Australians have embraced electric vehicles and the Albanese government’s fuel efficiency standards.

Polling for the Climate Council found 65 per cent of people agreed the country deserves “access to the same cleaner, more efficient cars that are already being sold overseas”.

Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the Climate Council, said Australians are aware of the climate crisis and conscious of high petrol prices.

“People have seen the impact, whether it’s bushfires, heatwaves, floods around them and there are many more EVs on the road,” she said.

“You can be reducing petrol costs as well as cleaning up the air, it’s win-win.”

Some 80 per cent of people reported feeling squeezed by high and rising petrol bills, while 74 per cent said cutting pollution from cars is an important step in addressing climate change.

Critics — mainly the Coalition and car manufacturing lobby groups — have falsely labelled the policy a “tax on the family car and utes”.

McKenzie said people are seeing through “the scare campaign” opposing the new vehicle efficiency standard.

“We should have had this policy years ago, unfortunately campaigns that look almost identical to this one run many times in the past have prevented Australia from having this,” she said.

“The vehicle industry has had a very long time to get used to this sort of policy and work out how to make more efficient vehicles.”

The Albanese government’s proposed model will cap the total amount of emissions for new car sales from manufacturers, and those that don’t meet the standards will face financial penalties from the start of 2025.

EV sales rise

Electric vehicle sales doubled in 2023 compared to 2022, states a new report from the Australian Electric Vehicle Council.

“This growth continues the trend of around a doubling of the new EV market every year since 2020,” the report said.

“In large part, this growth has been driven by increasingly positive actions taken by many Australian governments.”

With 180,000 electric vehicles on the road and 98,436 sales in 2023, the council said it was confident that with continued policy support, the market can continue to grow at 30 to 50 per cent each year.

Electric vehicle

Electric vehicle sales are increasing rapidly, according to a new report. Photo: Getty

“Over the coming years it will be more difficult for the local EV market to achieve the same level of exponential growth, in percentage terms, simply due to the total volume of sales now being so large,” it said.

“Looking more broadly across the country, every other state and territory also experienced strong growth in EV sales.”

Dumping ground

As one of the few countries around the world — alongside Russia — without fuel efficiency standards, car companies have been accused of treating Australia as a ‘dumping ground’ for inefficient and high-polluting vehicles.

“Families deserve access to the same cleaner and cheaper to run vehicles that manufacturers are currently sending to countries with fuel efficiency standards in place,” Nic Seton, CEO of Parents for Climate, said.

“Parents want access to cheaper to run cars that help to alleviate cost of living pressures, as well as cleaner cars that better protect our kids’ health.’’

Over 70 per cent of passenger vehicles sold around the world are subject to emissions standards, with countries like the United States, Japan and China having introduced them – in some cases – decades ago.

McKenzie said it was important to note that people in regional areas felt strongly about better emissions standards, not just those living in cities.

“Over two-thirds of people in regional areas want access to cleaner, cheaper-to-run vehicles,” she said.

“There isn’t a big distinction between the regions and the cities.”

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