Analysis shows strong fuel efficiency standards crucial for reaping $13b gain for Aussies

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Australians can save up to $1,200 per year on vehicle operating expenses if the federal government implements strong fuel efficiency standards, according to new modelling commissioned by the Climate Council and Electric Vehicle Council.

According to the estimate, if Australians design new fuel efficiency standards effectively, they might collectively reap up to $13.6 billion in net benefits by 2035 from lower car operating costs, cleaner air, and less environmental damage. 

Importantly, strong fuel efficiency standards would result in up to 31 million tonnes less harmful pollution over the next decade, as well as rapid growth in the number of low and zero-emissions vehicles available for purchase.

The analysis also found that Australia lags behind as one of the few affluent countries lacking fuel efficiency regulations, despite the fact that 80 per cent of the global car market is currently covered.

Climate Council Head of Advocacy, Dr Jennifer Rayner, said: “This modelling underlines that a strong fuel efficiency standard will deliver huge benefits for Australians in cheaper running costs for vehicles, while also reducing pollution and climate harm from transport emissions.”

She underscored that Australia cannot continue to be a dumping ground for high-priced, polluting vehicles that harm people’s wallets, health, and the environment.

“Every day we wait to put in place strong fuel efficiency standards means Australians are paying more than they should for fuel, and pumping out more harmful pollution,” noted Dr Rayner.

Greg Bourne, a climate councillor and energy expert, said Australian drivers will benefit from strong fuel efficiency standards, whether they choose to purchase an electric vehicle or a vehicle with higher fuel efficiency. 

“This will help accelerate supply and stimulate a fall in the price of low and zero-emissions vehicles that Aussie drivers can choose from. It will also have widespread flow-on benefits of cleaner air, cheaper running costs, and fewer emissions we can all share,” Bourne explained. 

Meanwhile, the analysis said the Australian Government should deliver fuel efficiency standards that will guide the country on its way to becoming a zero-emissions fleet, with the goal of having all new vehicles sold with zero emissions by 2035 at the latest.  

As a minimum, the standards should also be aligned with those of other car markets, such as New Zealand, the United States, and Europe, so that Australia may move up the queue for cleaner, cheaper vehicles, the research noted.