Fuel quality standards are blocking super-efficient cars
TOYOTA has slammed the proposed rollout of strict new vehicle emissions regulations across Australia, saying it's not possible to deliver world-class economy on our cheap poor-quality fuel.
The Federal Government is yet to announce a deadline or which vehicle emissions standards Australia will adopt, but it is in the middle of reviewing the regulations.
Australia has the fifth cheapest unleaded petrol in the world due to comparatively lower taxes but the fuel is of a poorer quality, ranking 66th out of the top 100 countries - and the lowest in the 35 OECD countries - according to a 2016 report.
"Put simply, we can't achieve first-world emissions without our first-world quality fuel," Toyota Australia sales and marketing chief Sean Hanley told media in Brisbane today.
"Toyota's view is that Australia must harmonise its standards for emissions with leading overseas markets. That will require us to do the same with fuel standards - namely, high-octane, low-sulphur fuel."
World's best practice for fuel is a maximum of 10 parts per million of sulphur; Australian regulations allow fuel to contain up to 150 parts per million of sulphur.
The petroleum industry says it can deliver higher quality fuel but prices would go up at the bowser.
The car industry says super-efficient hi-tech engines of the future won't be able to run on Australia's high-sulphur fuel, and instead would force motorists into dearer 95 and 98 octane premium unleaded.
Toyota is also urging the Federal Government to create separate emissions regulations for passenger cars versus utes, vans and SUVs.
It would be next to impossible for heavy, thirsty vehicles such as utes and 4WDs - that Australians favour - to meet stricter emissions standards.
"Any (emissions) targets should distinguish between passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles, with off-road passenger SUVs included with light-commercials," said Mr Hanley. "That's how they do it in the US and Canada."
The Toyota executive said some media reports have suggested "mandated targets will kill off, for example, the rugged diesel-powered vehicles for which Toyota is renowned".
"Let me assure you: that will not happen," said Mr Hanley. "Our plans - as far out as we can see - include continued strong demand and sales of vehicles such as HiLux and LandCruiser."
In the meantime, Mr Hanley said, Toyota is not waiting for emissions laws to be enacted.
"We recognise that all car-makers must reduce emissions and the overall environmental impact of their vehicles," he said, adding that Toyota would double the number of hybrid vehicles on sale in Australia from 5 to 10 over the next 30 months.
"We have a responsibility as the industry leader to take a stand - and we're doing that with a hybrid model offensive," said Mr Hanley.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling