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Polestar, like Tesla, has decided to leave the automotive lobby due to its opposition against the proposed standard for vehicle efficiency.
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Polestar, like Tesla, has decided to leave the automotive lobby due to its opposition against the proposed standard for vehicle efficiency.

Polestar, a brand of electric cars, has become the second company to withdraw from Australia’s primary automotive industry association due to their opposition towards the group’s efforts to oppose the Albanese government’s proposal to import more environmentally friendly vehicles.

On Friday – a day after Tesla announced it would cease being a member of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) over the group’s opposition to the government’s proposed vehicle efficiency standard – Polestar Australia’s managing director, Samantha Johnson, wrote to FCAI CEO Tony Weber advising him the Volvo-owned brand was also cancelling its membership.

Johnson expressed similar concerns to Tesla regarding the FCAI’s statement that the government’s preferred NVES could potentially raise the cost of popular utes by $13,000.

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Johnson stated that the efforts by the FCAI and other member corporations to undermine the standard did not align with Polestar’s priorities.

She stated that the concerns about the standard causing higher prices are exaggerated and requested that the FCAI make public the calculations supporting the claims. She suggested that the FCAI may have selectively chosen information to benefit certain members.

Johnson stated that the FCAI’s criticism of the NVES’s proposed ‘Option B’ model does not reflect Polestar’s stance and may have severely impacted public perception and confidence in the policy.

She stated that the brand cannot in good conscience continue to use its membership fees to support a campaign that intentionally hinders the car industry’s ability to reduce Australia’s emissions.

Johnson also referenced a report from the Grattan Institute about the government’s suggested approach to the NVES. The report projected that the policy would generally raise prices by approximately 1%, but consumers would soon experience financial benefits from significant discounts on fuel and maintenance expenses.

Johnson stated that Polestar may rejoin the lobbying organization once the FCAI demonstrates its commitment to fairly representing all voices within the automotive industry.

Weber stated that the FCAI has a responsibility to prioritize the needs of the Australian automotive industry and consumers, which encompasses over 50 brands and 350 vehicles, ranging from battery-powered electric cars and hybrid models to traditional petrol and diesel options.

Weber stated that FCAI cannot endorse a standard that may initially cater to the preferences and financial capabilities of those who can afford high-end cars, but could potentially harm businesses and families who may have limited options and face higher costs when purchasing a new car in the future.

In response to charges from Tesla, the FCAI stated that they have been advocating for government regulations on efficiency for over ten years. They also expressed their commitment to fighting climate change and making low-emission vehicles accessible to Australians.

Tesla requested that the FCAI publicly rectify their “false allegations” and acknowledge that their statements do not accurately represent the plans of car manufacturers. The company was concerned that the group’s remarks could greatly increase the cost of popular car models and decrease the price of Tesla models.

The statement conveyed worry that the FCAI’s assertions may result in consumers rushing to purchase high-polluting utes due to the fear of increased costs when the NVES is implemented. It was also concerned that these claims could influence individuals to postpone the purchase of Tesla cars in anticipation of a decrease in price when the government’s program is enacted.

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The planned fuel standard in Australia aims to set a limit on the emissions produced by newly-manufactured cars, encouraging car companies to offer more low- and zero-emission options. This limit will gradually be reduced over time.

The government’s proposed legislation is expected to go into effect in January 2025, with plans to introduce it by July.

The Albanese administration’s favored plan aims to reduce 369 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by the year 2050. This is roughly equal to the total emissions from light vehicles in Australia for the past six years.

Australia, along with Russia, remains one of the few major economies without standards. Industry analysts have routinely warned that manufacturers are treating Australia as a dumping ground for heavily polluting vehicles due to a lack of penalties.

Cars sold in Australia typically have a fuel consumption of 6.9 litres per 100km, while new cars in Europe and the US average 3.5 litres and 4.2 litres, respectively, for the same distance.

Tensions between climate advocates, car companies, and political opponents have been simmering since the government announced its favored model in February.

On Wednesday, Anthony Albanese denied that the Thai prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, asked him to slow the introduction of Australia’s planned fuel efficiency standard as it would adversely affect Thai exports.

Source: theguardian.com