After Tesla, Polestar quits Australia auto lobby as emissions fight escalates

By Thomson Reuters Mar 7, 2024 | 8:25 PM

By Lewis Jackson and Stella Qiu

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Electric vehicle maker Polestar Australia quit Australia’s major automotive lobby on Friday, a day after Tesla did the same, in protest over the organisation’s criticism of proposed federal vehicle emissions regulations.

In a letter to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Polestar Australia, part-owned by China’s Geely Automobile, said the FCAI’s commentary against the proposed regulations did not represent it and had “irrevocably damaged” public trust in the policy.

To get more electric vehicles on the road and cut emissions, Australia has proposed vehicle efficiency standards that will penalise car makers who import emissions intensive models and reward those who bring in cleaner vehicles.

Delaying or making the standards less stringent, as the FCAI has called for, would keep Australia a dumping ground for old technology vehicles and force the emissions burden elsewhere in the economy, Polestar Australia added in the letter.

“The brand cannot in good faith continue to allow its membership fees to fund a campaign designed to deliberately slow the car industry’s contribution to Australia’s emissions reduction potential,” head of Polestar Australia, Samantha Johnson, said in the letter.

Tesla quit the FCAI on Thursday and resigned from its board, accusing it of making false claims about the proposed standards and their affect on car prices.

In response to questions about the exits, the FCAI said on Friday it could not support a standard that met the needs for the owners of premium vehicles while leaving others with fewer choices and higher prices.

The FCAI said its members represent more than 50 brands. Its chair and two deputy chairs are from Mazda, Toyota and Mitsubishi Motors, respectively.

Australia’s centre-left Labor government opened consultation on the standards in February, and also released a “preferred model” for the new standards.

It aims to introduce the new standard in 2025, which will become more stringent each year, with the aim to hit average vehicle emissions intensity similar to the U.S. by around 2028.

Russia and Australia are among the only developed countries without fuel efficiency standards.

The FCAI said earlier this week the government’s preferred option would raise prices and limit options, especially for the pick-up trucks popular in the country.

(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Himani Sarkar)