Australian-based motor vehicle manufacturing will continue to decline as long as their own advocates insist Australian vehicles remain uncompetitive in the emissions and fuel efficiency stakes, as the losses of 440 jobs announced by Ford Australia today illustrates.
The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) has long argued for stronger measures on National Average Fuel Consumption numbers for new passenger vehicles. SEA have previously suggested three-year rolling targets on maximum fuel consumption, but successive Federal Governments have dragged their feet on setting mandated energy efficiency targets for the national vehicle fleet, and contained their aspiration to less than modest gains, and this has no doubt impacted negatively on the competitiveness of local manufacturers.
‘Market commentators commonly say Australians are only interested in large cars, but Holden Commodore, which was Australia's sales top seller for 15 consecutive years between 1996 and 2010, is now in fifth place,' says Professor Ray Wills, SEA chief adviser.
Resistance to change from the Australian automotive industry has commonly said that increased fuel efficiency in vehicles will come at a higher vehicle cost. But the sales data from Europe says otherwise - CO2 emissions from the average new car sold in Europe dropped to the milestone figure of 140g CO2/km in 2010 while retail prices of motor vehicles have fallen every year in real terms.
In Australia, small and city cars now dominate the largest proportion of sales filling nine of the top 15 places; the Ford Falcon is now in 20th place.
Not just cars:
Separate targets should impact on transport/commercial vehicles - measures such as this will reduce running costs of Australian vehicles on imported fuels and reduce inflationary pressure on transported goods.
Not just vehicles:
Australia must also tighten fuel quality standards to catch up with the implementation schedule Euro Standard to ensure we have cleaner burning fuels, and that higher efficiency vehicles are not compromised by lower Australian fuel standards.
SEA believes greater enforcement of road rules and operating standards is needed in all states to remove unroadworthy vehicles by regulatory action, and also should be aided by measures that prevent relicensing of unsuitable expired-licence vehicles.
‘Sustainability takes into account many factors - fuel efficiency and lower emissions is an important part of the equation, and so too is road safety. People should not be surprised to hear that car accidents and the injuries they can cause are not a sustainable outcome,' says Prof Wills.
Action to actively remove polluting vehicles from Australian roads has the potential to reduce: air pollution (higher standard engines in vehicles); carbon emissions (fuel efficiency in vehicles); out of pocket expenditure (fuel efficiency in vehicles); motor vehicle accident occurrences (safer vehicles); motor vehicle accident injuries (safer vehicles); hospital queues (safer vehicles), and lung diseases (cleaner city air).
A study from the from The University of Western Australia and Telethon Institute of Child Health Research has highlighted in particular the effects of vehicle-sourced pollutants on the growth of unborn babies, and adds to older studies that show impacts on the developing lungs of infants and children.
Top 15 Best-selling Australian Vehicles - 2012 six months to June 30
• Mazda3 - 21,813
• Toyota HiLux - 19,412
• Toyota Corolla - 19,026
• Holden Cruze - 16,437
• Holden Commodore - 15,860
• Hyundai i30 - 14,000
• Nissan Navara - 13,180
• Toyota Camry - 10,948
• Toyota Yaris - 9836
• Mitsubishi Triton - 9686
• Toyota Prado - 9320
• Mazda2 - 9043
• Ford Focus - 9000
• Volkswagen Golf - 8697
• Mitsubishi Lancer - 8405
Top 10 Best-selling Australian Brands - 2012 six months to June 30
• Toyota - 106,035
• Holden - 56,183
• Mazda - 52,133
• Hyundai - 45,306
• Ford - 43,430
• Nissan - 39,879
• Mitsubishi - 31,139
• Volkswagen - 26,966
• Subaru - 21,341
• Honda - 16,153
Mandate higher fuel efficiency to save Australian car manufacturers.
SEA Media Release - 17 July 2012