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Australia plans fuel efficiency standards to boost electric car supply

Recasts with confirmation and statement from minister SYDNEY, Aug 19 (Reuters) - The Australian government will seek to introduce vehicle fuel efficiency standards to help increase the supply of electric cars, improve affordability for motorists and drive down emissions, the government said on Friday. The absence of a mandatory fuel efficiency standard is curbing the uptake of electric cars in Australia, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said at an electric vehicle summit in Canberra. "We believe that now is the time to have an orderly and sensible discussion about whether vehicle fuel efficiency standards could help improve the supply of electric vehicles into the Australian market," Bowen said. "To me, this is ultimately about choice. And policy settings are denying Australians real choice of good, affordable, no emissions cars," he said. Bowen said a discussion paper on the National Electric Vehicle Strategy will be released for consultation in coming weeks, seeking feedback from industry, unions and consumer bodies. Apart from Russia, Australia is the only OECD country to not have, or be in the process of developing, fuel efficiency standards, he said. "Consumers aren't getting the choice available internationally and as the world moves towards more efficient and cleaner vehicles, Australia risks becoming a dumping ground for older technology which can’t be sold in other markets," he said. Only 2% of cars sold in Australia are electric, nearly five times lower than the global average, because of high selling costs of vehicles. The recently elected Labor government raised Australia's 2030 target for cutting carbon emissions to a 43% reduction from 2005 levels, bringing the country more in line with other developed economies' Paris climate accord commitments. (Reporting by Renju Jose and Praveen Menon; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Richard Pullin) ((renju.jose@thomsonreuters.com; +61 29171 7126;)) The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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