Call for tougher car fuel consumption standards

As US President Barack Obama announces a tough new national standard for vehicle fuel efficiency, the Australian Conservation Foundation and NRMA Motoring & Services have called on Australian governments to also set mandatory fuel consumption standards for Australian made cars.

ACF and NRMA have called on ministers at this Friday’s meeting of the Australian Transport Ministers Council to set standards equivalent to those in the European Union.

“Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea and now the United States have all introduced mandatory fuel consumption standards for new cars and it time for Australia to do the same,” ACF Sustainable Australia Program Manager Monica Richter said.

The Australian manufacturing industry has a voluntary code of practice for reducing the fuel consumption of new light vehicles for all fuels and new vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes (including SUVs) with a target of 222g CO2/km by 2010. But unless we catch up to the rest of the world, the Australian vehicle industry will be left behind.

“Fuel consumption standards implemented overseas some years ago should be introduced in Australia in staged increments to ensure the country is at least on par with much of the world by 2015,” NRMA Motoring & Services President Wendy Machin said.

Japan and the European Union require passenger cars to achieve a fuel efficiency standard of 5.0 litres/100 km (approx 140g.CO2/km).

“Mandating fuel consumption standards is a logical step towards reducing the greenhouse emissions of Australian vehicles as well as reducing the cost to households of having a motor vehicle.”

Analysis conducted by the NRMA-commissioned Jamison Group in 2008 found compulsory fuel consumption standards could save the average motorist over $700 a year.

“If Australia were to adopt best practice standards, the greenhouse savings would be considerable,” Ms Richter said.

“In 2007 we could have saved 82.5 million tonnes of CO2 over the average vehicle life. That’s about one year’s worth of transport sector emissions.”