Tesla quits Australia auto lobby over claims on car emission standards

SYDNEY, (Reuters) – Tesla said on Thursday it is quitting Australia’s major auto lobby and resigning from its board, accusing the group of misleading consumers over the government’s proposed fuel efficiency standards and the potential impact on car prices.

In a letter addressed to Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Tesla said the country’s biggest auto industry body “has repeatedly made claims that are demonstrably false.”

“Tesla is also concerned that it is inappropriate for the FCAI to foreshadow or coordinate whether and how competitor brands implement price changes in response to environmental regulations,” the U.S. electric vehicle market leader said.

Tesla said it has requested Australia’s competition regulator to investigate FCAI’s comments.

The FCAI, which includes top leaders of major car brands, did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. Tesla said it would cease to be a member in June.

Until recently, Australia was the only developed country apart from Russia to either not have or be developing fuel efficiency standards.

The current centre-left Labor government, which won power in 2022, plans to develop a fuel efficiency model that aims to limit the average carbon emissions of new vehicles sold from next year.

That could prompt manufacturers to send more EVs to Australia and further boost adoption, putting the country in line with standards adopted in most other developed economies.

The FCAI on Wednesday said the government had opted to impose a fuel efficiency standard with “extremely aggressive targets and severe penalties to be effective on very short notice” from Jan. 1, 2025.

This could cause significant disruption for large sections of the industry, and result in fewer choices and higher prices for consumers, FCAI said.

The government has closed consultations on its preferred model and is aiming to introduce legislation later this year.

Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Lincoln Feast.