Toyota ready to meet Australian vehicle emissions reduction targets – executive

Toyota ready to meet Australian vehicle emissions reduction targets – executive


Toyota ready to meet Australian vehicle emissions reduction targets – executive

A high-ranking Toyota Australia executive has rejected accusations the company has lobbied against vehicle emissions reduction targets, and says it stands ready to meet any future mandates.

Japanese auto giant Toyota has vowed to meet any Australian motor vehicle emissions standards rolled out by the Federal Government – which has just commenced a six-week consultation process, the first step in setting future pollution targets.

And Australia’s new-car market leader for the past two decades – which represents one in every five motor vehicles sold – has also rejected accusations it lobbied to slow the adoption of clean air measures or that it has been late to the electric-car race.

The Federal Government has started a six-week consultation process to bring Australia more closely in line with fuel efficiency mandates in other developed countries.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald published over the weekend, the sales and marketing boss of Toyota Australia, Sean Hanley, said: “We haven’t sought to slow down the adoption of electrification or the adoption of carbon-neutral technologies.

“All we’ve said is that we believe there’s more than one way to get there. And like every other group, we’ve expressed our opinion and our view on how we can get to carbon-neutral. We categorically reject the premise that we prevented or stopped, or actively lobbied to stop [the transition].”

Although Toyota has been accused of dragging its feet in the rollout of electric cars, over the past 20 years it has put more than 20 million electrified hybrid cars on the road globally, including 330,000 hybrids in Australia.

By Toyota Australia’s calculations, that’s the equivalent of putting 90,000 solely electric vehicles on the road – which would make the company the biggest seller of electric cars locally, even when measured against Tesla.

However, even though hybrid cars in certain Australian states must display “EV” (electric vehicle) badges on their number plates to alert emergency services and first responders when attending a crash, critics of the technology dismiss it as an electric motor powered by petrol.

Whichever way it is calculated, real-world testing shows Toyota hybrid cars have cut in half the fuel consumption – and therefore the tailpipe emissions – of more than 330,000 vehicles in Australia alone.

This example forms part of Toyota’s argument there is more than one way to reduce motor vehicle emissions.

The high-ranking Toyota Australia executive repeated earlier comments that any vehicle emissions standards adopted in Australia should reflect our more diverse taste in cars – and unique terrain and vehicle uses – than Europe or the US.

However, Mr Hanley said: “We stand by to see what the government does announce and Toyota will come into line with whatever that announcement is. That’s what we do in the markets that we operate.”

Because Australia’s emissions standards are about a decade behind Europe, the Toyota executive told The Sydney Morning Herald: “(Australia’s) rate of improvement will need to be relatively aggressive on the path towards net zero (emissions).”

The car industry has been calling for more clearly-defined future vehicle emissions standards for at least half a decade – and has compiled its own emissions data for the past three years – but has expressed cautioned about policymakers moving too aggressively and too quickly, because a sudden and radical change could have the opposite effect on reducing pollution.

The most recent data – for calendar-year 2022 – shows Toyota hybrid technology has helped deliver the largest vehicle emissions reductions on record in the passenger-car category, however our appetite for utes and four-wheel-drives has seen pollution levels of those vehicles increase not decrease.

“If you make the emissions reduction targets too tough, and the penalties (for high emissions vehicles) too high, then motorists will hold onto older, less efficient, more polluting cars for longer,” said one senior industry veteran, who declined to be named as he is not permitted to speak on behalf of the car company he works for. “And that will have the opposite outcome of what everyone wants.”

As reported by Drive earlier this month, data compiled by Japanese car maker Mitsubishi revealed that, based on energy sources in Australia today – which is approximately 70 per cent reliant on coal – an electric car has a worse environment impact that a similarly-sized petrol car “from the cradle to the grave” (including material sourcing and production, and the lifecycle of the vehicle all the way to the wrecking yard).

However, the total environmental footprint for electric cars improves as more clean energy is sourced, the Mitsubishi Japan report found.

MORE: Biggest polluters on Australian roads revealed
MORE: Electric-vehicle lobby group’s dirty tricks to lobby Canberra for cleaner cars
MORE: Shock truth! Industry document shows electric vehicles worse for the environment than petrol cars in Australia today

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Joshua Dowling

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for more than 10 years.

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