Of all the car companies to actively undermine efforts to reduce national, continental or global fossil fuel consumption, you wouldn't think Tesla would be one of them.
I bring this up because in August 2022 the federal government announced their intention to introduce fuel efficiency (lower consumption) targets for vehicle manufacturers.
The minister for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Bowen, said that it was time to discuss whether Australia should have such standards, in order to prevent Australia becoming a dumping ground for old ICE (internal combustion engine) technology.
So here's my contribution to the discussion. Don't allow pooling, because that's exactly what Tesla did to artificially inflate its stock price and undermine Europe's CO2 emissions limits for vehicle manufacturers.
The European Commission's stated goal was similar, being to push vehicle manufacturers towards making a larger proportion of vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions.
The targets were for an average rate of CO2 emission per vehicle across what each maker sold (often referred to as that maker's fleet), and these targets were so low that even some hybrids struggled, so selling a reasonable volume of fully-electric vehicles was the only way to avoid the hefty fines.
Unless there was some loophole written in. And there was.
As if to disguise what can only be described as a tax on ICE vehicle manufacturers to simply prop up the tech stock bubble, they were allowed to pool resources and avoid the fines. They just had to come to some agreement with a company who was well under their target, and pay them a sum lower than the fine for the deal to be worth it.
As such, Fiat and Honda were approved to include some of Tesla's vehicles in their fleets, thereby reducing their average and avoiding the fines. Meanwhile Tesla has been collecting over a billion USD a year off the scheme. This not only saved the ICE makers fines in the hundreds of millions (or according to some reports, billions), it also saved them many billions in research and development costs, so it rather perversely did the exact opposite of what any reduction targets should be achieving.
You might say that keeping Tesla afloat is a good thing, and I'm sure their shareholders would agree, but understand that it came at an environmental cost which means Tesla is now financially and ethically responsible for epic quantities of ongoing tailpipe emissions.
I've noted these before but it's worth restating them here.
If passenger vehicle journeys are going to be your focus, then improving public transit in more places is a far more effective solution. In fact, it's stunning to me that anyone could want to trudge through traffic. My idea of enjoyable driving is actually driving, not queuing in my own steel box.
If you want to reduce the petrol consumption of existing old-tech ICE vehicles, then Brazil has been proving for decades that ethanol is a viable substitute, and it's really not that hard to convert to a blend like E85 (85 per cent ethanol, 15 per cent unleaded).
Meanwhile, as a nation we burn about twice as much diesel (around 30 billion litres a year) as we do unleaded petrol, due in large part to long-haul transport (trucks and trains) and farming. But diesel engines are even easier to convert to biomass sources.
Combustion and batteries aren't the only option either. I still think that different users employing different solutions to suit both the availability and their needs is a far better approach. So that includes getting plenty of green hydrogen (that which is specifically made from water and renewable electricity) into the mix, and even some aircraft developers are expecting to go down this path.
Another point I feel is important to make is that it's used vehicles that most private owners are driving. The average age of the Australian fleet is over 10 years, so apart from looking at biofuels more seriously, any government action should be far more focused on what fleets are buying and then "dumping" onto the used market.