Australia is at risk of becoming an "automotive third world," a local spokesperson for Volkswagen has claimed.
Europe, China, Japan and the USA – where the vast majority of the world's cars are built – all have significantly more stringent emission regulations than Australia. As such, local branches and distributors report it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the importing of newer and more environmentally friendly model variants at the expense of overseas quotas.
Speaking to CarAdvice this week, a spokesperson for the German manufacturer’s local arm said: "[We are] only too eager to import electric vehicles… but Australia’s regulatory backwardness makes it almost impossible to make a case to the factories for prioritisation.
"First world markets – where there are significant penalties for failing to meet emissions targets – will naturally be the first in line for zero emission vehicles. It is difficult to explain to parent companies that Australia continues to languish in Euro 5 with no intention of meeting Euro 6 until 2027… As the Volkswagen Group has frequently made clear, Australia is becoming an automotive third world."
The spokesperson further noted Volkswagen is not pushing for the introduction of financial incentives to promote electric vehicle uptake locally. Rather, the company opposes the introduction of disincentives such as those recently proposed in Victoria and South Australia.
"Retrograde measures such as these, coupled to emissions regulations that lag more than a decade behind those of Europe and a lack of accessible public charging stations, diminish our company’s case to the factory in Germany for zero emission vehicle prioritisation," the spokesperson continued.
"As a consequence, other countries are even now receiving Volkswagen’s range of relatively affordable [electric vehicles], while the date of commencement for Australia’s roll-out is increasingly uncertain. Already Australia is missing the latest and most efficient conventional engines because of its appalling petrol quality, which remains among the most sulphurous in the OECD."
Volkswagen currently offers an ID.3 electric hatchback and ID.4 electric SUV internationally, neither of which are on sale in Australia. E-Golf and E-Up variants were also previously available in overseas markets.
The ID.4 – which costs less than €40,000 (AU$60,000) in most European countries after subsidies – will likely be the first all-electric Volkswagen variant introduced Down Under, with unconfirmed reports suggesting arrival in 2023.
The Audi E-Tron and Porsche Taycan – both of which are built by Volkswagen Group subsidiaries – are currently on sale locally, priced from $137,100 plus on-road costs and $190,400 plus on-road costs respectively.