Auto industry gets to work on cleaning up its act

Peak automotive body calls on Federal Government to adopt its voluntary CO2 emissions standard.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has released the CO2 emissions data for each automotive brand as the second reporting step of its industry-led voluntary CO2 Emissions Standard.

This follows the reporting in late March, for the first time, of an overall automotive industry CO2 Emissions Standard which was done with a view to setting a benchmark for future improvement and showing that the industry is making progress towards its 2030 targets. 

The latest release provides information on the CO2 emissions data of individual automotive brands during 2020 while the earlier March report provided an overall result for the passenger, SUV and light commercial automotive sector. 

In both cases reporting of the CO2 emissions data is a voluntary initiative being driven by the FCAI and its members with the FCAI calling on the Federal Government to adopt the voluntary standard as a part of the ambition to reduce emissions in the transport sector.

“Clear and consistent direction from governments is a critical signal to car makers who will respond by doing what they do best and that is, bring the latest, safest and most fuel-efficient vehicles to customers,” said FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber.  

He said the voluntary reports were a significant step for the automotive sector in tracking its rate of supporting emissions reduction.

“The global automotive industry is focusing its R&D programs on the challenging task of improving CO2 outcomes for the benefit of the environment and society and new, low-emission vehicles are regularly brought to market to meet increasing consumer demand across the world.

“The introduction of these new low-emission vehicles is also driven by challenging emissions targets introduced in many countries. These targets play a major role in shaping the purchasing behaviour of customers and attracting the most advanced vehicle products into market.

“Car makers will prioritise vehicles for markets where there is customer demand driven by a clear direction and commitment to emissions reduction.”

He noted the industry had set two targets – MA Category (passenger cars and light SUVs) and MC+NA Category (heavy SUVs and light commercial vehicles) based on annual new vehicle sales.

The MA outcome for 2020 was 150 gCO2/km (grams of CO2 for every kilometre travelled) and the MC+NA outcome for 2020 was 218 gCO2/km.

The outcomes are against a target of 154 g CO2/km for MA and 197 g CO2/km for MC+NA, meaning that, as a category, passenger cars and light SUVs narrowly bettered the target while heavy SUVs and light commercial vehicles missed the mark. 

In the period ahead to 2030, the industry is targeting an annual 4% reduction for MA and 3% annual reduction for MC+NA. 

It is estimated that MA vehicles will, on average, have CO2 emissions under 100 gCO2/km and MC+NA vehicles under 145 gCO2/km by 2030.

“The sector performed slightly ahead of expectations in the passenger car and light SUV segment, however, was behind the voluntary target set for heavy SUVs and light commercial vehicles,” Mr Weber said.

“There is no doubting the commitment and direction of FCAI member companies to lowering emissions with the increasing availability and acceptance of zero and low-emission vehicles – from full electric through to hybrid and fuel-efficient internal combustion engines.

“However, there are at least three major challenges ahead. First, the CO2 results for 2020 reflect the type of vehicles Australians are choosing to drive, with sales of SUVs and light commercial vehicles regularly now more than 50 per cent of new vehicle sales every month. 


“The fuel efficiency of these larger vehicles is improving with each new model release. 

“However, the nature of the market and customer preferences need to be considered when comparing Australia’s emissions result with other countries.

“Second, the model development cycle for new vehicles can range from five to 10 years depending on the type of vehicle, so the emissions reduction will continue to improve as the latest technologies arrive on our shores. 

“Any expectation that emissions will decline rapidly over one or two years is unrealistic.

“We are at the very start of this journey and the industry will push hard on the rate of CO2 reduction.

“Finally, Australia’s fuel is among the lowest quality in the world. 

“We urge the Federal Government to accelerate the improvement of Fuel Quality Standards for Australia’s market fuels as this will enable the introduction of more of the fuel-efficient vehicle technologies already on the roads overseas.”

Commenting on the specific results, Mr Weber said the industry now had an image of where it currently sat and the pathway to achieving the 2030 targets.

“There is only one result that matters for us and that is the 2030 target,” Mr Weber said.

“We estimate that more than $100 billion is being invested globally by the vehicle manufacturers to improve the safety, environmental performance and driving experience for people across the world.

“Our member companies in Australia have signed up to this commitment of lowering emissions in our society and every one of them is working to bring the best technology vehicles to the Australian consumer.”
He added that each brand would progress towards the target at their own pace, depending on individual model cycles.

“The pathway to the 2030 target will not be smooth,” Mr Weber said.

“Individual brands may not always record annual improvements or meet the annual industry target. What matters is where we are in 2030.

“Regardless of the individual results, our member organisations should be commended for having the foresight and courage to agree to achieving a whole of industry target.”

View the results and methodology used to calculate the CO2 here