Media - Solar Citizens

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Australian Households feeling transport costs, electric vehicles could save thousands

6th September 2022: Australian Households feeling transport costs, electric vehicles could save thousands 

Released today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Monthly Household Spending Indicator shows that in July, spending related to transport was a record high at an increase of 35.4%. Solar Citizens have today released an Electric Vehicle Savings Calculator, showing how much households could save by switching to electric vehicles.

“Australian households are feeling the pain of soaring petrol prices acutely, yet we could have avoided this if we had secured a stronger supply of affordable electric vehicles years ago”, said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“When we recently surveyed over 1,700 of our supporters, the vast majority told us that they are very concerned about how rising petrol prices are impacting their cost of living, and 64% are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle sometime in the next three years,” said Haikerwal. 

Solar Citizens has developed an Electric Vehicle Savings Calculator, to help consumers find out how much cheaper it is to run cars through home solar or the electricity grid than it is to run an equivalent petrol car. 

As an example, Risyad Abmar, a 27 year old nurse from Melbourne is currently paying an extra $200 each month on petrol. He calculated that if he switched from a Kia Sportage to an equivalent Kia EV6, he could expect to save nearly $20 for every 100km – over $2,000 in a single year of driving. 

“Household transport costs have ballooned since April this year, and people are really feeling the strain. Today’s ABS data tells us that unless we can help Aussies make the switch to an EV, transport costs will continue to drain our wallets and bank accounts, and line the pockets of Russian oil barons.

“Petrol prices have rocketed sky-high since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Everyday Australians are paying the price for our dependence on a volatile international fuel supply, whereas if we had EVs—especially those charged on home solar—we wouldn’t be dangerously vulnerable to foreign oil prices and availability. 

“We have the biggest uptake of solar energy per capita in the world, and running electric cars via home solar is a no brainer, and can be up to 98% cheaper than paying petrol prices.

“We made a tool that will help anyone see the facts and figures about why making the switch to an EV would really help their hip pockets in the long term. 

“Our calculator demonstrates that if Australians could get their hands on EVs, they could slash their transport costs by hundreds of dollars each year by utilising grid energy, or even better – using the sunshine hitting their solar panels on their own roofs. 

“Because of the stalling of successive Federal Governments and sabotage from the petrol car lobby, we are yet to see our fair share of affordable EVs in the Australian market. We need globally competitive Fuel Efficiency Standards within the next year to ensure we have our place in the global queue. 

Fuel Efficiency Standards are widely regarded as the key policy measure to securing a supply of EVs in Australia. We are one of four G20 countries not to have implemented this policy.

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)

AEMO Forecast Confirms Aussie Homes Need Battery Subsidy

31 August 2022: AEMO Forecast Confirms Aussie Homes Need Battery Subsidy

Released today, the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2022 Electricity Statement of Opportunities supports the federal government in implementing new policies to drive the uptake of home batteries. 

“The AEMO report identifies a clear gap in federal government planning - they urgently need to provide support for home battery storage to minimise risks to our national electricity market”, said Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas.

Solar Citizens is campaigning for a policy like a Renewable Energy Storage Target, which would provide a rebate on home batteries including electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid capacity.

 “Australia already has the biggest uptake of home solar per capita in the world. So it just makes good financial sense to marry our home solar with home batteries, as this eases pressure on our electricity grid and saves money for consumers.” 

“With AEMO’s news that Snowy 2.0 is now 2 years behind, the Albanese government can get a quick win for everyday Australians, addressing the cost of living and energy crisis, by providing incentives for behind-the-meter storage. This will also help to continue to drive our uptake of home solar.“

“Being energy independent helps the hip pockets of everyday Australians who will save money on power bills, rather than leaving them vulnerable to gas and coal energy price rises and unpredictability.”

“AEMO forecast cites “the importance of policy and consumer support for demand side solutions, and the increased requirement for utility-scale solutions should these forecast solutions not materialise.”  In plain English that means if we consumers don’t get support from the government for home batteries, the government is going to need to look at more large-scale battery storage being built”.

“Our recent survey of 1700 Australians found that people overwhelmingly want cheaper clean technology solutions like solar, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries to help bring down their bills. But many households are still facing barriers. “

“Nearly half of those surveyed with solar panels are saving a whopping 70% or more on their power bill -  or are usually in credit. But just 20% have a home battery despite half of the solar owners wanting one. Most said that the cost is keeping batteries out of reach for now, and the majority wanted a $3000 government subsidy to enable them to afford home batteries”.

“That’s why we’re calling for measures that will help make batteries more affordable – like a battery storage target similar to the highly successful Renewable Energy Target.”

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Media contact: National Director Heidi Lee Douglas, 0401 092 570

Solar Citizens' petition calling on the Federal Government to roll out affordable battery storage can be found here.

North Queenslanders back rapid renewable transition

29 August 2022: North Queenslanders back rapid renewable transition

New polling of the Townsville Local Government Area has revealed that a staggering 85 per cent of residents support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing. 

The poll of 610 Townsville residents was conducted by UComms for community group Solar Citizens. It also found 55 per cent agree that new clean energy industries, like producing renewable hydrogen, will be major employers across regional Queensland by 2030.

“Businesses are lining up to start manufacturing clean products in Townsville because of the region’s impressive solar and wind resources, and good port facilities,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

“Already there are significant plans to begin producing renewable hydrogen and manufacture battery materials and solar panels locally. These polling results clearly show that the community supports projects like these to power long-term good jobs.

“It’s now up to the State Government to make sure these proposed projects proceed. They can do that by announcing plans to turn Townsville into a clean manufacturing hub and ensuring enough cheap renewable energy is coming online locally to meet growing demand.”

This polling comes as the Queensland Government is developing a 10-Year Energy Plan that will plan for the State’s energy system up to 2032 when Queensland will host the world’s first climate positive Olympics. The plan is expected to be released in the coming months. 

When polled, 62 per cent of local residents agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar. Fifty five per cent said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by the 2032 Olympics. 

Similarly, 55 per cent agree the Queensland Government should be spending more on renewable energy.

“Queensland is well behind other Australian states as we only generate about 20 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources. Our reliance on expensive coal and gas means we have the highest wholesale power prices in Australia’s main grid,” said Ms Gray. 

“The irony is that we have some of the country’s best solar and wind resources, especially in North Queensland where we get more than 300 days of sunshine. Building more renewable energy here is a no brainer.

“We’d like to see the Queensland Government deliver a sensible plan to urgently transform our energy system with affordable renewable energy. Only then will Queensland be competitively positioned to make the most of our potential to power new clean manufacturing industries.”

Key findings:

  • 55% agree or strongly agree that new clean energy industries, like producing renewable hydrogen, will be major employers across regional Queensland by 2030. 75% of Labor voters agree or strongly agree. 

  • 85% strongly support or support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing. 

  • 62% agree or strongly agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar.

  • When asked what the deadline should be for moving to a renewables-powered grid, the most common answer was 10 years or less (35%), followed by 10-15 years (22%). 

  • Similarly, 55% said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2032 when the State is set to host the world’s first climate positive Olympics. 

  • 55% agree the Queensland Government should be spending more on renewable energy.

Case study:

Rhian first began working as an electrician in North Queensland’s sugar industry and later took work closer to home at the Sun Metals’ zinc refinery in Townsville.

In 2018, Sun Metals commissioned a 124 MW solar farm to help reduce the running costs of the refinery. For Rhian, the move to working in renewable energy was an exciting opportunity to learn new skills and progress his career. When the opportunity came up, he leapt at the chance to work on the development of the solar farm.

Rhian is now employed by Ark Energy, Sun Metals’ sister company, as the Operations and Maintenance Manager for the solar farm. Impressively, today the solar farm produces the equivalent of a third of the refinery's energy needs. 

“Ark Energy felt like the perfect fit for me. There is so much room to learn new skills and grow into the future,” said Rhian. 

“Working in renewable energy is great because it’s ever-evolving. I’m never bored. I’m always learning and I love it.

“I have two young boys and it will be great for them to grow up knowing that their dad was involved in the transition to cleaner energy.”

Ark Energy, a subsidiary of Korea Zinc, has progressive plans to develop a 3,500 MW renewable hydrogen facility in Townsville by 2040. In 2030, they are aiming to have established a 900 MW electrolyser, which will require up to 2,200 MW of renewable energy generation to run.

Rhian is one of the Ark Energy teammates who is working to establish a renewable hydrogen pilot at the zinc refinery site. The renewable hydrogen fuel generated from the project will be used to power five new fuel-cell electric trucks. 

Ark Energy's mission is to become the safest and most competitive producer of green hydrogen in the world and Townsville is at the heart of their plans. 

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Plan to Accelerate Electric Vehicles Welcomed

19th August 2022: Plan to Accelerate Electric Vehicles Welcomed 

Clean transport advocate Solar Citizens has today welcomed a plan by the Federal Government to get Australia into the fast lane on electric vehicles (EVs) by investigating Fuel Efficiency Standards as part of the upcoming National Electric Vehicle Strategy.

“As everyday Australians feel the strain of the cost of living crisis, we’re hearing cries out for affordable EVs, which are cheaper to run and maintain than petrol vehicles. Today, the Government is saying “we hear you” and putting us firmly in the queue to secure a reliable supply of affordable EVs,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“Fuel Efficiency Standards will give car makers a limit on how much total carbon pollution new vehicles can produce. It shifts the onus and incentivises the industry to bring more electric models to Australia, opening up the market with more options and price points to help Australians make the switch. 

“This is a sensible policy that would finally let Australia show up to the EV race. Although we have many examples from overseas that we can follow, we need to ensure Australia locks in a globally competitive standard as soon as possible.

“Already, vested interests like the Federal Chamber for Automotive Industries (FCAI) are proposing watered-down versions of this scheme, but we need a robust Fuel Efficiency Standard that is aligned with a 1.5°C warming scenario to get up to speed with the international community – anything less is irresponsible.

“We know that manufacturers often overestimate the emissions savings of hybrids and plug-in hybrids, so although these vehicles are good for some amount of emissions reduction in the short term, we need a world-class standard with no loopholes for hybrids. No other country in the world includes credits for hybrids in its scheme. 

“The last Federal Government dragged their feet on EV policy, so what we don’t want to see is a long, drawn out consultation process that sees us fall even further behind the rest of the world. We’re starting the global race for EVs from the carpark while other countries have already left the starting line.”

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)

Clean Technology the Solution to Lower Bills Says New Survey

Monday 15 August 2022: Clean Technology the Solution to Lower Bills Says New Survey

A new survey by community group Solar Citizens has shown the extent to which household solar is driving down power bills.

The nation-wide survey of 1,700 Australians has found that rooftop solar is providing significant reductions to household power bills, with 42 per cent of solar owners saying they save more than 70 per cent off their electricity bills or are usually in credit. A further 20 per cent of people say they’re saving more than 50 per cent off their bills. 

The survey found households without solar were much more likely to be significantly concerned about rising electricity prices than those with solar.

“At the moment high global coal and gas prices are driving power bills through the roof. The only guaranteed way for households to shield themselves and bring down their electricity bills is to generate their own power,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens. 

“In response to high prices, State and Federal Energy Ministers are discussing the possibility of introducing new fossil fuel subsidies via a capacity mechanism. This is absolutely the opposite of what’s required because the only time we’re seeing lower wholesale power prices is during the day when there’s abundant solar operating.

“We’d like to see the Federal Government implement a Renewable Energy Storage Target to help more households utilise their cheap solar energy around the clock. This would be good news for the grid and help bring down prices for everyone.”

A significant 84 per cent of solar owners surveyed who currently don’t have a battery are looking to purchase one in the next three years. Cost of battery storage is still seen as a major barrier, but for the largest share of those polled (26 per cent) a government subsidy of at least $3,000-$4,000 would be enough to get them over the line to purchase a battery.

“With the energy chaos of the past few months, it’s no surprise that households are looking for the savings and security offered by storage in their homes,” said Ms Gray.

“We’re also hearing that many people are looking to electrify their household and get off the gas network to untie themselves from spiralling gas prices.”

A staggering 41 per cent of those surveyed who had gas in their households said they would definitely switch to electric alternatives with a government subsidy.

“Big coal and gas companies are cashing in on this energy crisis at the expense of consumers, and it’s time for our new Federal Government to act on their mandate to roll out affordable clean energy.

“It’s a no brainer we should be helping everyday Australians tap into our abundant cheap sunshine with batteries and electric appliances to maximise the benefits.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Of those surveyed:

  • 85% have solar.

  • 42% have saved 70% or more (or are in credit) on annual electricity costs, and 61% have saved 51% or more.

  • 84% of solar owners without a battery are interested in buying one in the next 3 years, where 20% of solar owners already have one.

  • When asked how much a government subsidy would need to be for non-battery owners to purchase a battery:

    • 26% said $3-4,000 or more

    • 20% said $5-6,000 or more

    • 10% said the entire cost

    • (24% unsure, around 7% each said $1-2,000, or above $7,000).

  • 49% of solar owners were moderately to extremely concerned about electricity costs compared to 72% of people without solar.

Australians are locked out of EVs by price and availability

12th August 2022: Australians are locked out of EVs by price and availability

Rising petrol prices is the top concern for Australians worried about cost of living, and most are keen to make the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) but are being deterred by the higher purchase price, according to a survey of over 1,700 Australians by Clean Transport advocates Solar Citizens. 

A sample of 1712 Australians surveyed by Solar Citizens showed that 64 per cent were interested in buying an electric vehicle over the next three years, but a majority named purchase price as the biggest barrier to do so (64%).

“When I did the maths on buying an electric car three years ago, they were too expensive and there weren’t enough models to choose from in Australia. I was prepared to dig a bit deeper for the right car, and there were models I wanted to buy available overseas but not here. Ringing the car dealerships, they weren’t expecting those models here anytime soon. And three years later we're still waiting for the range of affordable models we need to make EV’s more accessible to everyday Australians,” said Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas.

“Australia just doesn’t have access to the same EVs that other countries do. With strong incentives factored in, the cheapest new EV in Europe is almost $20,000 cheaper than even the most affordable models in Australia. [1] The key way for us to increase the availability of affordable EVs is to implement strong Fuel Efficiency Standards like the rest of the world.

“While Australians are dealing with the triple whammy of a cost of living crisis, an energy crisis and the climate crisis, Fuel Efficiency Standards would bring a variety of EVs into the country of all different shapes, sizes and costs."

In their survey, Solar Citizens discovered that the price of petrol was the highest cost of living concern across all income brackets, and three-quarters of people interested in buying an EV indicated that they were moderately to extremely concerned about petrol costs. 

“The data is telling us that in the face of skyrocketing petrol prices Australians are ready to get in the driver’s seat of an electric car, but the price and availability are keeping them locked out. Mums like me around Australia are missing out on the cost of living savings of running an electric vehicle because there aren’t enough models and vehicles  to go around – this needs to change.

“Calculations we’ve been given from industry players also found that for solar owners, it costs between 60c and $1.82 per 100km to run an EV if you charge it in the middle of the day. Compare that with around $22 per 100km for a petrol car with today's outrageous fuel prices.

“Australia is the dumping ground for the world’s inefficient, dirty petrol cars. With rising fuel prices, this is directly hurting our hip pockets. People know that EVs are cheaper to run and safer for the climate and our health, but have been let down by successive Federal Governments that are lagging behind and limiting the flow of affordable EVs into the country – Fuel Efficiency Standards is a long overdue policy we need to unlock Australia’s EV revolution.” said Douglas.

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Media Contact: Heidi Douglas (0401 092 570)

[1] The cheapest EV in Australia is currently the BYD Atto 3 SR, which is $44,381 with a $3000 rebate in some states, coming to $41,381. The cheapest EV in Europe is the Dacia Spring Electric, at €20,850 with a €5000 rebate in France, coming to approximately $23,037 AUD (Data accessed 12th August, 2022).

 

Australia needs fuel efficiency standards with teeth to end the electric vehicle roadblock

8th August 2022: Australia needs fuel efficiency standards with teeth to end the electric vehicle roadblock

Clean Transport advocates Solar Citizens have criticised revelations from a report leaked this morning that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Australia’s peak body representing 39 auto brands, is covertly lobbying the government to implement some of the weakest fuel efficiency standards in the world.

“After the passing of the Climate Bill in parliament last week, the Albanese government now has an opportunity to implement Fuel Efficiency Standards with teeth and get us on par with the rest of the world and tackle our skyrocketing transport sector emissions,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“But because we’re so far behind, we have to ensure our standards are the best in the world to give us any chance of catching up.

“The leaked report from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries this morning shows that our car industry is trying to implement a dodgy standard that will see Australia fall short of its Paris commitments and leave Aussies with cars that will cost more over the long run, use more fuel, and pollute more carbon for longer.

“Any standard simply cannot include concessions for hybrid vehicles. The emissions savings that car makers calculate for hybrids and plug-in hybrid vehicles are much more dramatic than the cuts they actually deliver, so a ‘technology agnostic’ approach just isn’t going to cut it. 

“You only have to look across the ditch to New Zealand to see a developed country with a small right-hand drive market, similarly isolated, for an example as to how strong Fuel Efficiency Standards have made a remarkable difference in a short space of time – EV sales have almost tripled since they were introduced last year.

“As today’s report from The Australia Institute also makes abundantly clear, we’re the world’s dumping ground for inefficient vehicles. Had fuel efficiency standards been adopted when the Turnbull government was in power, households, the economy and the climate would all have been better off.”

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Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal, 0400 723 324 

Queensland’s Solar on Schools Program Shines

28 July 2022: Queensland’s Solar on Schools Program Shines

Community group Solar Citizens today congratulates the Queensland Government on beating their target for the rollout of solar on schools. A total of 200,000 panels are now installed on 912 schools, beating the target of 180,000 panels at 872 schools.

“This goes to show that when members of the Queensland Government set their mind to smart solar policy they can get it done,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens.

“Rolling out solar on schools and other government-owned buildings that consume the lion’s share of their electricity during the day is a no-brainer to create long-term savings and a cleaner environment.

“Queensland leads the world in the uptake of rooftop solar but there is still room for improvement and to make sure everyone can access the cheapest source of power, especially while wholesale power bills are spiralling out of control.

“Renters and social housing tenants face barriers to accessing solar but there are proven state government policies that can address these issues.

“A few years back the Queensland Government ran a Solar for Renters trial program that saw 670 tenants save on average $600 per year. In South Australia, the State Government has partnered with Tesla to roll out thousands of solar and storage systems on social homes at no upfront cost to the tenants.

“The policy solutions are there to unlock more cheap energy for everyone. We’d like to see the Queensland Government go from strength to strength and follow up the successful Advancing Clean Energy Schools program with more proven solar initiatives.”

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Federal Government to fall short of its electric vehicle sales target

26th July 2022: Federal Government to fall short of its electric vehicle sales target

New research unveiled this morning shows the Federal Government will fall short of their 89 per cent electric vehicle (EV) target by 2030 unless they follow major international economies and introduce Fuel Efficiency Standards. The research commissioned by S&P Global for the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that EVs will only make up 76 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2030, compared to the Government’s 89 per cent target.

Clean transport advocates Solar Citizens support the prospect of legislated Fuel Efficiency Standards, but caution that to stay in line with a 1.5 degrees warming scenario they should at least be in line with our international trading partners, if not stronger.

“The rest of the world is already charging ahead on the metaphorical EV highway – Europe has had mandatory Fuel Efficiency Standards since 2009 – so it’s about time we also got on board,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens. 

“Given that we’re only starting now, we need to ensure that the standards we set are strong. The science tells us we should be aiming for 100 per cent of new car sales being zero emissions by as early as 2030 to do our part to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees.

“International bodies, including the IEA have highlighted that a 100 per cent target for new zero-emission car sales no later than 2035 is critical for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. 25 per cent of the current global car market has already committed to achieve this target.

“These standards work with a carrot and stick approach – car makers are subsidised for providing zero-emissions vehicles and penalised for petrol cars. What we don’t want to see is hybrid vehicles being subsidised within a mandatory Fuel Efficiency Standards scheme. This will only set us back further from major economies like the US, Japan and the EU – and we’re already way behind. 

“OECD countries produce 80 per cent of the world’s carbon pollution, so it’s important that we’re following the example of – if not beating – our trading partners on measures like Fuel Efficiency Standards if we are to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

“There are calls by some of the car making industry to go slower on the EV transition. But this means that Australians will be left with expensive, polluting vehicles – a great way for some manufacturers to profit, while leaving Australian consumers in the dust. 

“We’re hearing from consumers across the country that Australians want a greater variety of EVs on the market. Strong national Fuel Efficiency Standards Is the first step for making that happen.” 

Solar Citizens is running an explainer webinar on the importance of the EV rollout and national Fuel Efficiency Standards on Tuesday August 2nd at 6pm. You can register for the free The EV Revolution: Why Australia is Lagging Behind webinar here: https://www.solarcitizens.org.au/the_ev_revolution 

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Media contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324

Solar Citizens welcomes ACT Zero Emissions Vehicle Strategy

21st July 2022: Solar Citizens welcomes ACT Zero Emissions Vehicle Strategy

Clean transport advocates Solar Citizens have welcomed the comprehensive and ambitious policy announced yesterday in the ACT’s 2022-2030 Zero Emissions Vehicles Strategy.

“During this cost of living and energy crisis, ACT’s consumers have been shielded from the brunt of the pain that most other Australians are feeling in their power bills. This is the result of forward-thinking climate and energy policy, which has seen the ACT moving to 100% renewable energy,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Electric Vehicle Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“The ACT is now also supercharging its electric vehicle (EV) policy, which will also ultimately benefit consumers. Canberrans will be driving cars that are cheaper to run and maintain, and lead to cleaner air and quieter streets.

“Australian families need these cost-saving solutions yesterday. In a couple of months the Federal Government’s cut to the fuel excise will end, petrol prices will skyrocket further, and consumers will be asking why they didn’t have access to EVs sooner – but not in the ACT.

“While other states—and the Federal Government—are yet to leave the driveway, the ACT has joined the rest of the world on the EV highway.

“These are the types of policies that enabled Norway’s rapid transition, where EVs now make up 84% of new car sales. Meanwhile in Australia, EVs made up less than 2% of new car sales last year.

“The ACT has made it clear that in order to achieve their Australia-leading targets it’s essential that the Federal Government gets out of the slow lane and implements fuel efficiency standards in line with the rest of the world. This is a critical piece of the puzzle that will incentivise manufacturers to bring zero-emissions vehicles to our shores.

“To avoid Australia becoming a dumping ground for inefficient vehicles then other states should follow the lead of the ACT and advocate for strong national fuel efficiency standards.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324