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Light commercial vehicles scrapped under new plan

Wednesday, 21st July, 2021

By Cherie von Hrchner

A new Grattan Institute report recommends the mothballing of light commercial vehicles so that Australia can meet its target of zero emissions by 2050.
Toward Net Zero - Practical policies to reduce transport emissions was released by the public policy think tank on Monday, and specifically fingered two of Broken Hill's most popular vehicles, Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, as leading culprits in Australia's contribution to climate change.
"The transport sector is responsible for nearly 20 per cent of Australia's emissions, and more than 60 per cent of transport emissions are from light vehicles (including the two most popular cars in Australia, the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger)," wrote the report's authors.
"So the best way to cut transport emissions is to supercharge the switch to electric cars."
The report suggests the Federal Government should "phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel light vehicles" over the next 14 years.
But retired Broken Hill mechanical engineer and former RAA road assistance operative, Andrew McGregor, isn't convinced.
"I'm not surprised they are responsible for two-thirds of transport emissions, because they make up about two-thirds of the national motor vehicle market," he says.
"Farmers rely on them, a lot of tradespeople rely on them, and without those two groups of people a lot of things are not going to get done."
Mr McGregor believes the report doesn't account for the realities of
life in the outback.  
"I really don't see an electric market working, particularly in rural areas," he says.
"The Tesla, for example, the straight-out electric car, is always having problems. Out here in the Far West, because of our remoteness and the vast distances you have to drive, if you get a battery failure it can be a major, major problem.
"The infrastructure and maintenance needed for battery charging stations alone are immense, and the costs are going to be added onto the price of food and other essentials.
"The manufacturers can be legislated up the ... y'know ... to stop producing these kinds of vehicles, but the thing is they haven't got a viable alternative at this point in time."
Mr McGregor says it's unlikely owners of light commercials will be tempted to surrender their vehicles within the 14-year window.
"I don't believe so, because a lot of these vehicles have longer warranties, like 10 years, and that's mainly why people are buying them," he says.
"Most people I've encountered purchased these vehicles because of the warrantees rather than the vehicles being fully practical for their purposes. Some of the small SUVs you see getting around come with a 10-year warranty, so if they're similarly priced to a little hatchback thing, why not buy the SUV?"
The report notes that while Australians spend an average of $40,000 on a new car, only three of the 30 electric cars available in Australia retail for less than $50,000 with "the crossover point - when the upfront cost of a battery electric vehicle is lower than an equivalent-performance petrol/diesel vehicle - is still some years away".

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