Australian Government’s Time Frame to Cap Car Emissions ‘Too Quick’: Toyota

‘The trajectory is too steep, especially for large four-wheel drive SUVs and light commercial vehicles.’
Australian Government’s Time Frame to Cap Car Emissions ‘Too Quick’: Toyota
The logo of Japan's Toyota Motor is displayed at a car showroom in Tokyo on Aug. 4, 2022. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images)

Australia’s most popular vehicle brand, Toyota, has warned against the centre-left government’s new rules on car emissions, saying that it would hurt middle Australia.

Labor’s new vehicle emissions standards (NVES), which will come into force in January 2025, places an emissions cap on each automaker’s vehicle fleet that will tighten each year to reduce transport pollution.

The majority of the global car market, including the United States, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Japan, have introduced their own versions of vehicle emissions standards.

But even as Toyota introduced its first electric vehicle in Australia, the brand said car companies needed more time to meet the fuel-efficiency standards and bring efficient vehicles to Australia, particularly low-polluting four-wheel drives and utes.

Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley argued that under the new rules, brands would be forced to raise the price of large fuel-hungry vehicles such as the LandCruiser and light commercial vehicles like the HiLux.

He said while electric vehicles would be “the foundation of Toyota’s electrification strategy,” the timing of the transition proposed by the government was “too quick.”

“The trajectory is too steep, especially for large four-wheel drive SUVs and light commercial vehicles,” he added, according to AAP.

Mr. Hanley noted that the NVES does not take into account “the technical hurdles, the lengthy time, and the substantial cost that will be required to deliver commercial [EVs] that are practical, that are capable and, above all, that are affordable.”

Mr. Hanley said Toyota was still devising its official strategy to the government but estimated it would take at least three years for car companies to deliver efficient vehicles in Australia.

The sales and marketing head also noted that Toyota would not purchase credits from other companies to meet its emissions targets and avoid financial penalties under a scheme.

“We‘d pay a fine, we’d pass it on,” he said.

Mr. Hanley said that unless the final scheme is less aggressive, it will “have a profound negative impact on regional and rural Australia” and the result would “reverberate throughout the Australian economy.”

“If we were to be fined, the margines and the investments that go into developing these [EVs with low emissions] is such that the customer would wear a good portion, if not all of it,” he added.

“I just can’t imagine how you can absorb these massive fines.

“I put it to anyone who wants to listen: where are the alternative vehicles for those customers in the next two or three years that are affordable and capable of doing what they want to do? We just need time to make the adjustments.”

The comment came as Toyota took the wraps off its bZ4X electric SUV in Canberra, revealing a vehicle that will sell for $66,000, which puts it in direct competition with cars from market leader Tesla.

Its price will put Toyota in direct competition with Tesla, with its Model 3 and Model Y undercutting the new vehicles with starting prices at $61,900 and $65,400 respectively.

Tesla sold more than 3,300 electric cars in Australia during 2023, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, followed by BYD with more than 1300 sales.

AAP contributed to this article.