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Stringent new car emissions standards coming to Australia from 2025

The Federal Government announced strict new car emissions standards for new petrol and diesel-powered cars to be rolled out from 2025. The emissions standard aims to catch Australia up with Europe and other developed nations.

Hundreds of popular passenger vehicles, SUVs, utes and vans are at risk of disappearing from showrooms if they are unable to meet the new standards, which is also known as ‘Euro 6d’.

The current emissions rules in Australia date back to 2009 and were superseded in Europe a decade ago. The quality of Australian petrol is among the dirtiest in the developed world.

The new Euro 6d standards planned for Australia were introduced in Europe in 2021 and are considered close, or even stricter than emissions protocols in other developed countries.

The tough emissions rules are to be rolled out from December 2025 for all new cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles. Existing models or models that were introduced before that date will have until 2028 to comply with the emissions standards.

The new rules will influence car manufacturers to bring cleaner cars to Australia and are thought to be separate from an even more stringent Fuel Efficiency Standard currently being developed by the Australian Government.

Electric car advocates say the mandate will encourage car makers to bring more zero tailpipe-emission cars to Australia to lower the average emissions across their model line-ups. This would make it harder to sell high-emission utes and four-wheel drives.

Industry experts and other car manufacturers have warned that there is a risk that motorists who need heavy-duty utes and four-wheel-drives could be left behind if they cannot switch to electric cars.

More than half of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars for sale in Australia are certified to the minimum emissions standard, Euro 5, which also includes the fuel-efficient Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

In the last three years, the Australian car industry has failed to meet its own voluntary emissions targets, which are laxer than those mandated by law overseas. The performance of these targets has worsened as sales of utes and 4WDs increase.

Along with the confirmation of stricter emissions standards, the Federal Government plans to mandate fewer “aromatic hydrocarbons” in 95-octane premium unleaded fuel. Regular 91-octane and top-end 98-octane petrol will remain unchanged.

This is in addition to previously announced plans to cut down the amount of sulphur allowed in all types of petrol to 10 parts per million (ppm)—currently 50ppm in 95-octane and 98-octane premium petrol and 150ppm in 91-octane regular unleaded. Diesel has been limited to 10ppm of sulphur in Australia since 2009.

The 10ppm of sulphur in petrol is already mandated in Europe, the USA, New Zealand, China, and other countries.

The mandate for low-sulphur petrol has been delayed from 2024 to December 2025 to “simplify the change for fuel suppliers and customers”.

 It’s estimated that the move to low-sulphur petrol would incur a price increase of 0.6 to one cent per litre, according to the current government.

The Federal Government estimates that the new emissions standards and changes to petrol quality will save the economy $6.1 billion in health and fuel costs by 2040 and will shield Australians from “harmful exhaust pollutants that cause respiratory illness and cancer.”

“The changes, along with Fuel Efficiency Standards are part of delivering cleaner, cheaper to run cars and tackling transport costs for Australian families and businesses,” Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King, said in a media statement.

“Tightening Australia’s noxious emissions standards will prevent deaths caused by toxic air pollution.

“Noxious emissions contribute to strokes, respiratory illnesses and cancer and equivalent standards have already been introduced in countries such as the US, China, India and Japan.”

Tony Weber, the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said, as quoted by the Australian Financial Review: “This is a necessary step. Automotive manufacturers have been calling for an improvement to Australia’s fuel quality standards for more than a decade.”

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