Toyota Australia boss Dave Buttner has been elected president of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), replacing ex-local Ford boss Bob Graziano who vacated the role in March.
The FCAI is the collective body representing Australia’s car- and bike-makers, both as locally-based manufacturers and importers.
Mr Buttner has sat on the FCAI board for the last two years, during which time he also took on the top job at Toyota Australia.
And now, as president of the Chamber, Mr Buttner has wasted no time outlining an intention to push the Federal Government on issues regarding future transport options and CO2 emissions.
Buttner’s employer, Toyota, along with Ford and Holden will all have exited the Australian manufacturing scene by the end of 2017, changing the shape of the industry and leaving the likes of parts suppliers vulnerable.
With this in mind, Mr Buttner called on the government not to abandon the industry post-2017, and to continue to implement positive policies for the bodies represented by the FCAI.
Speaking at the FCAI’s annual dinner, Mr Buttner said Australia needed to consider how it would achieve “real and lasting CO2 reductions” from cars and how it plans to prepare for the arrival of self-driven vehicles.
Autonomous technology will eventually rely on ‘smarter’ traffic signals, cameras, motorways and more, using the likes of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (v2v and v2i) systems.
While a ‘default’ drop in Australia’s CO2 emissions from vehicles has come about through enforced improvement in the markets that supply many of our cars, Mr Buttner said investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure could see emissions further reduced.
Buttner called on the Federal Government to introduce meaningful incentives to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, and an improvement to minimum fuel standards to reduce consumption in internal combustion engines.
Australia’s ‘regular’ 91RON unleaded petrol for example offers less energy per litre than Europe’s minimum 95RON, which leads some carmakers to detune their models for Australia in order to avoid the unwanted ‘premium fuel only’ label.
Mr Buttner also called on the government to push the average age of our national vehicle fleet down, in order to improve safety, reduce the road toll and further reduce emissions.
Finally, Buttner voiced the FCAI’s position on the proposed relaxation of ‘grey import’ laws, following the effective end of the mainstream Australian carmaking industry in 2017.
The Federal Government has suggested it may ease restrictions on personal imports to ensure consumers can buy the car they want at a competitive price, but like many corners of the industry, the FCAI says it supports “fit-for-purpose” vehicles.
Besides Buttner’s appointment as President, the FCAI’s annual general meeting also saw Ford’s new president and CEO Graeme Whickman, Hyundai Australia’s COO John Elsworth, Volvo Australia Managing Director Kevin McCann, Holden’s incoming Chairman and Managing Director Mark Bernhard, and Toyota Australia’s Andrew Willis installed as Directors.
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