Australia's Dirty Emission Secret

By: Unique Cars Magazine

Presented by

HOW A HEAD IN THE SAND ATTITUDE TO EMISSIONS TORPEDOED LOCAL MANUFACTURING

Australia's Dirty Emission Secret
Australia's Dirty Emission Secret

ASK MOST Australians what the carbon dioxide emissions figure of their car is and they won’t have a clue. It’s not something that enters into their buying decision. Yet it’s exactly this overlooked statistic that has helped drive nails into the coffin of local manufacturing.

In 2009, the European Parliament introduced CO₂ emission standards of 130 grams of CO₂ per km by 2015 and a long-term target of 95g CO₂ per km by 2021. By contrast, the Australian car industry adopted a soft voluntary targets of 222g CO₂ per km by 2010. Even this proved too great a hurdle, with average emissions from cars manufactured in Australia in 2010 pegged at 247g per km – 11% shy of the target. Since then, the gulf in efficiency between home-grown cars and European cars only widened.

The net result of this was to render many of our home-built wares unexportable to many key markets. In a country with a lower population than Madagascar or Yemen, the economics of developing specialist vehicles for a home audience failed to make sense. European and Japanese car manufacturers have formed effective lobby groups in many markets to adopt stricter emissions standards and thus restrict importation of cheap, inefficient rivals.

In a classic case of too little, too late, the Abbott government rubberstamped the G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan in 2014, which was tasked with "improving vehicle energy efficiency and emissions performance" by strengthening domestic standards in vehicle emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency. Yet in the 2015 Energy White Paper there were precisely zero recommendations to introduce emissions standards.

Of course, carbon emissions weren’t the only thing that crippled Australia’s chances of competing globally. High wages, market fragmentation and the after-effects of the GFC all played a part. We love a good old V8 here at Unique Cars, but the inescapable truth is that failing to progress in clean tech only served to isolate Aussie car makers.

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition