2018 Mazda 3
The next-generation Mazda3, based on the Kai concept, will feature efficient compression ignition engines. Photo: Supplied

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David McCowen | Mar, 15 2018 | 0 Comments

Mazda says “zero emissions” claims surrounding electric cars are “disingenuous”, and efficient petrol-powered cars can match battery-powered rivals over the life of the vehicle.

A statement issued by the brand’s European arm says “until the growing quantity of power from renewables replaces the dirtiest forms of electricity generation such as brown coal, electric powertrains do not currently satisfy to society's wish for a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”.

The manufacturer says its next-generation petrol engines with Skyactiv-X sparkless ignition technology can rival electric vehicles when emissions are measured over the life of a vehicle.

The UK and many other European markets apply vehicle tax structures based on how much carbon dioxide cars emit for every kilometre driven on the road. Australian authorities have canvassed the possibility of introducing a carbon-based emissions standard of 105g/km for Australian cars by 2025. That could require cars to use less than 4.5L/100km of fuel, potentially resulting in tax penalties for vehicles which consume fuel at higher rate.

The Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide lists annual tailpipe emissions for electric cars such as the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S P100D as not applicable, whereas a current petrol Mazda3 uses 5.8L/100km of fuel to produce 136g/km of CO2. However, the GVG’s comparison tools also show carbon emissions created over the life cycle of fuel sources, which result in the BMW and Tesla producing 155g/km and 236g/km of CO2 when charged with non-renewable electricity in Victoria.

The Greens political party in Australia released an EV policy this week calling for sales of combustion-powered cars to banned by 2030 in favour of electric and fuel cell vehicles.      

But Mazda’s British outpost says it believes “regulations placing the absolute emissions of an EV (electric vehicle) at zero to be disingenuous”.

“In order to more correctly measure CO2 emissions over the life cycle of a vehicle, Mazda is moving beyond current 'Tank-to-Wheel' evaluations (which consider only emissions whilst driving), to a 'Well-to-Wheel' method, which also considers fuel extraction, manufacturing and shipping,” it says.

“The use of 'Well-to-Wheel' emissions evaluation will allow Mazda to make a more accurate assessment of the appropriate powertrain development paths to pursue in the immediate future. In this context, the company has reconsidered the ecological merits of EV vehicles which consume power generated by using fossil fuels.”

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has advocated for “regulatory pressure to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions”, but proposed changes received mixed reactions from car makers, the public and politicians. Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told the ABC in July 2017 “there is as much chance of a carbon tax on cars as Elvis making a comeback", while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at the time “certainly no decisions have been made in that regard”.

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