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Labor Signals New Fuel Standards In Bid To Boost Electric Vehicle Uptake

A Recent ABC Article

The federal government has taken the first step towards introducing new fuel emission standards to get more electric vehicles into the domestic market, reducing price and emissions.

A number of Commonwealth, state and territory ministers will discuss the relatively slow take-up of electric vehicles in Canberra today, along with some of the biggest manufacturers and industry groups.

The Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Bowen, will soon release a discussion paper on bringing fuel standards into line with almost all other nations and ensure inefficient cars are not dumped in Australia.

"Every country except [us and] Russia has them and it does mean that we get sent substandard vehicles by manufacturers in relation to emissions, because other nations require the best emission vehicles," Mr Bowen told the ABC.

"What we're saying is now is the time to have a serious discussion about whether Australia should have fuel efficiency standards and how we should have them."

More than 80 per cent of the global car market now follows 'Euro 6' vehicle emission standards, including Europe, the United States, Japan, Korea, China, India and Mexico.

But Australia has resisted signing up to the standards, which would require more stringent restrictions on pollutants in petrol, and require new cars to emit far less particulate matter than currently allowed.

Mr Bowen has also flagged the development of a national electronic vehicle strategy, which has been welcomed by electric car manufacturer Polestar's Australian managing director, Samantha Johnson.

"At the moment there are incentives around Australia, but they are all state-based with different amounts and different thresholds," Ms Johnson said.

"A nationally consistent approach would drive electric vehicle uptake a lot fast and also it would be less confusing for consumers."

Standards will reduce EV prices

Car manufacturers say that has made it difficult to sell their best vehicles in Australia, which require better quality fuel.

Volkswagen Australia's managing director, Paul Sansom, said mandated fuel standards would eventually reduce the price of electric vehicles.

"There is a lack of choice in the market at the moment and that is largely due to the lack of mandated standards," Mr Sansom said.

"Manufacturers will send products to markets where there are such standards with quite punitive penalties for not achieving them.

"The headquarters are sending [vehicles] that are in high demand to places like Europe and America, rather than Australia as there is no consequence for hitting a lower standard here."

Mr Sansom conceded this also included his own company, Volkswagen.

But Jennifer Rayne, head of advocacy at the Climate Council, said Australia would not be able to copy fuel emission standards already in place overseas.

"Australians drive longer distances and there are some unique characteristics to our market that might mean we need a tailored scheme that doesn't look exactly like it looks in Europe or exactly like it looks in America," Dr Rayne said.

"Last year, big car companies sold over a million new cars into the Australian market and most of those were dirtier and less efficient than the cars they sell overseas."

Labor state and territory ministers have welcomed the push for a national approach.

"We're very keen to grab hold of this opportunity of an engaged and supportive federal government to quicken the pace of our infrastructure rollouts and of our policy development," ACT chief minister Andrew Barr said.

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