Only a small fall in emissions despite EV sales boom

Reports show that Utes and SUVs are trending – tipping the emissions scales out of balance. Electric vehicle sales are booming, however, only a small change in car emissions have been recorded.

Australia has seen just a two percent fall in CO2 emissions from new cars sold last year whilst sales of electric vehicles tripled. According to the National Transmission Commission (NTC), Australians are buying Utes and SUVs in high numbers with both these segments typically having less EVs available to purchase. Sales of 4×4 and 4×2 utes increased by more than 43,000 in 2021 and SUVs went up by around 25,000. The emissions intensity of these popular vehicles exceeds 210g/km but Australia is yet to have an electric ute vehicle option.

Cars driven are the largest contributor of Australia’s CO2 emissions within the transport sector, accounting for 18% of total emissions. The NTC report uses data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), showing that half of new car sales in 2021 were SUVs, a quarter more of total sales than a decade ago. This evidence highlights that Australia is falling further and further behind in emissions than other countries – a topic that continues to be in discussion at the inaugural Electric vehicle summit over the years.

A particular observation that was noted in the report was that Australia’s total CO2 output for small SUVs and lighter passenger vehicles would have reduced by 91%, and larger utes and SUVs would be down 47% if all new cars sold were CO2 friendly. Australia’s best-in-class for CO2 emission vehicles represent only 0.23% of the country’s 18.4 million cars and light commercial vehicles that are on our roads. At this point in time, Australia’s battery-powered and plug-in electric vehicles have some catching up to do compared to other countries.

If we were to base ourselves upon the trends observed from other countries, a significant increase in investment in public recharge stations , adoption of emission standards, preferential tax arrangements, and incentives would help Australia towards a significant uptake in greener vehicles.

As of the start of August, the current global price average of petrol was $2.01 per litre compared to Australia’s average price of petrol of $1.817 as stated by the “Global Petrol Prices”. Cleaner fuel and lower emissions are on the way but for all motorists, there is a price to pay.


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