One of the most important electric cars to arrive next decade is likely to be pushed back due to Australia's lagging emissions standards.
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Order books have opened and key details have been released for the new Volkswagen ID.3 electric car in Europe – but its introduction in Australia has been pushed back until 2022 at the earliest, due to lagging local emissions standards.

Volkswagen has released disguised photos of the ID.3 – one of the most important electric cars to arrive next decade – ahead of its official unveiling at this year's Frankfurt motor show in September.

European customers are due to take delivery in mid-2020 but the electric "people's car" won't arrive in local showrooms until at least two years later, more than a year later than originally planned, after a lack of incentives to introduce electric cars locally drove Volkswagen head office to push Australia down the priority list.

Volkswagen Australia managing director, Michael Bartsch, says Australia is "in danger of losing its place in the queue for EVs because this country's automotive regulations have fallen behind the first-world norm".

Electric vehicles have been thrust into the spotlight in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election, after Labor announced its plan to make 50% of all new car sales electric by 2030.

Amid the debate, the federal government announced better fuel quality and emissions standards would not come into force locally until 2027.

"Australia also remains mired in Euro 5 and the outmoded (European) testing cycle while much of the world has moved onto Euro 6 and WLTP testing," Mr Bartsch said today in a media statement.

Car companies claim they cannot deliver their latest engine technology on Australia's high sulphur unleaded petrol.

The petrol companies claim that upgrading Australia's four remaining refineries would cripple the industry and wipe out thousands of jobs.

Australia's regular unleaded petrol is allowed to have a maximum sulphur content of 150 parts per million. Premium unleaded has a 50 ppm limit. Current world's best practice is 10ppm.

"Such backwards markets may not be prioritised for new technology of all types - including (electric cars)," said Mr Bartsch.

“Even though Australian diesel has conformed to the European standard since 2009, groups such as the Australian Institute of Petroleum and the Australian Automobile Association have opposed the introduction of first world petrol to this country for another eight years, even though much of our petrol is already imported," he said.

Volkswagen Australia has previously claimed our country could become a "dumping ground" for old engine technology, unless emissions standards and fuel quality are aligned with Europe.

Volkswagen Australia has also leant on its sales network in the lead up to the Federal Election, arming dealer principals with a sternly-worded letter to hand their local member of parliament emphasising the benefits of emissions reform.

In the meantime, Volkswagen has released key details on the new Golf-sized electric car in Germany.

CarAdvice's Europe correspondent Greg Kable reports Volkswagen has confirmed it will offer up to three different battery capacities with ranges of 330km, 420km and 550km on the latest and more stringent WLTP economy test cycle.

Holding true to Volkswagen’s earlier claims that the ID.3 would be priced at similar points to mid-level versions of the seventh-generation Golf, the first in an extended range of dedicated models to be launched by the German car maker under its new ID. electric car brand costs €30,000 (AU$47,896) in entry-level 330km-range guise in Germany.

This compares to the €27,285 (AU$43,557) price tag of the Golf 1.5TSI ACT BlueMotion in Comfortline trim in Germany.

Volkswagen Australia says it is too early to provide a cost estimate locally but aims to not price the vehicle out of reach when it eventually arrives in local showrooms in 2022.