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Volkswagen: EVs, newer engines on the radar thanks to Federal policy

Volkswagen has been very vocal about Australia’s lack of fuel standards and emissions regulations being a barrier to introducing its latest, most efficient powertrains Down Under – but that’s about to change.

Volkswagen Australia’s director for passenger vehicles, Michal Szaniecki, told CarExpert the newly-elected Albanese Government’s climate action as “a cause for celebration”.

“As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, the missing component to the equation to make sure we get equal access to EVs like Europe and other markets is CO2 regulation,” Mr Szaniecki said.

“When this is sanctioned and when it becomes law, automatically all the processes are accelerated for the whole Group, including Volkswagen, to get more cars, to get more models, and to get them faster.”

Volkswagen Australia has already confirmed it’s planning to launch its first electric vehicles – the ID.4 and ID.5 – towards the tail end of 2023.

The plug-in hybrid Touareg R is coming early in 2023, with the Golf GTE hot hatch and Tiguan eHybrid SUV to follow. Mr Szaniecki added a plug-in Passat Wagon is also on the cards for our market.

When asked if the planned emissions framework and improvements to fuel quality put European-spec drivetrains for models like the Golf and T-Roc – which currently run an older 1.4-litre petrol and eight-speed torque converter auto from the US market – on the radar for Australia, Mr Szaniecki simply replied with “yes”.

In Europe, the Golf and T-Roc are available with a more efficient 1.5-litre petrol engine running a similar 110kW/250Nm tune to the 1.4 offered locally. The newer engine packs 48V mild-hybrid technology which helps the car use as little as 4.8L/100km on the combined WLTP cycle, a 1.0L/100km improvement on the local model’s ADR claim.

Versions of this drivetrain are already available in other models within the Volkswagen Group, with the regular 1.5 TSI available in the Audi Q2, Skoda Kamiq and Scala, and the 48V-assisted version recently launched locally with the new-generation Audi A3.

In late July, the Federal Government placed an electric vehicle incentives bill before the Australian Parliament. Rather than focusing on direct rebates like many of Australia’s states, the Albanese Government’s initial plan centred around tax breaks to cut prices and drive take-up.

The legislation (called a Treasury Laws Amendment) exempts low-emissions cars from fringe benefits tax (FBT), potentially saving employers and private vehicle operators thousands.

The Albanese Labor Government also recently introduced legislation to bring forward the introduction of lower-sulphur petrol in Australia from 2027 to 2024.

By December 15, 2024, all petrol at Australian service stations will have a maximum sulphur level of 10 parts per million. This applies to 91 RON, 95 RON, 98 RON and E85 unleaded fuel.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

MORE: Q&A with Paul Sansom, Volkswagen Group Australia managing director

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