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POOR fuel grades – and old engine technology – are holding Australia back in attempting to lower future vehicle emissions, says the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

FCAI chief executive Tony Weber told GoAutoNews Premium that it was a priority that Australia needed to have better quality fuel and without a higher-octane (RON) rating and a lower sulphur figure, he said Australia would never be able to reduce vehicle emissions.

“Unless we get better fuel quality, you will find engines being produced for first-world countries and engines produced for third-world countries. Who gets what would depend on your fuel quality,” he said.

“Unless Australia is very, very careful about the way it handles this, we will go down the third-world path.

“Getting to pull the lever for lower CO2 emissions is not easy – you have to look at the net benefits of lowering vehicle emissions,” he said.

“The problem is that if you don’t have the fuel, you don’t have the outcome.

“So you pay the money but the outcome is no different because you supply the high sulphur, low RON fuel so there’s no environmental benefits from the engine.”

Australian fuel quality is rated lower than most countries. India and China are soon to move to petrol with 10 parts-per-million of sulfur. Australia is as high as 150ppm and New Zealand is 4ppm.

Sulphur prevents the catalytic process of cleaning noxious gases from the exhaust by clogging up the process.

“In our discussions with the government we have said that you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” Mr Weber said.

“There’s no point is seeking higher quality of Euro 6 without introducing quality fuel. They are listening – but it’s not just us with the same message – there’s the fuel quality standards review currently underway.

“There’s nothing unique about Australia in engines and why the rest of the major countries in the world have gone to low-sulphur high RON fuel.”

He said the two – higher quality fuel and more efficient engines – had to work together to get any emission benefits.

By Neil Dowling

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