2 February 2023

I drive a diesel-guzzling 4WD and I welcome the emissions-based registration changes

| Zoya Patel
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diesel exhaust pipes

The ACT Government is moving to emissions-based car registration to encourage the uptake of low-emission vehicles. Photo: Region.

I was excited to see the impending transition in the ACT from weight-based car registration to emissions-based. And considering the car I drive, that positive reception might seem surprising.

I have a big Toyota Prado, a diesel-guzzling, emissions-blasting 4WD that I frankly feel ashamed of half the time I’m driving it (the other half I’m blasting Taylor Swift and enjoying finally being able to see the road properly, given my short height).

Why do I own a car that costs me stupid amounts of money in fuel and that makes the environmentalist in me cringe? Because, and I know how privileged this is, I have multiple horses and need a towing capacity of at least 3 tonnes, and unfortunately, there isn’t an EV in Australia yet that can manage that.

But I would happily pay extra in my car rego and support any other measures to drive the uptake of EVs. I am signed up for alerts on a range of electric 4WD cars with a 3-tonne towing capacity, which are available overseas and are expected in Australia in the next three to five years. I’ll be lining up to hand over my unsustainable ride. I’m crossing my fingers that the charging infrastructure will be better developed by then so I can head interstate with the ponies without worrying that I’ll run out of juice.

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The primary hesitation I had about the proposed changes to ACT rego fees was the impact on lower-income drivers who can’t afford newer, more emissions-friendly vehicles. While I’m pleased to see that this has been accounted for in terms of people with concession cards and seniors cards, I still worry about the cohorts that have enough resources to not qualify for a concession card but who will still struggle with any price hikes.

The first car I ever owned was a 1995 Ford Mondeo that I bought for $3000 from my brother-in-law and then promptly crashed on the way home. I was in my first year of university, working two jobs and commuting 30 mins each way every day to the ANU. It cost me about $60 in petrol a week, and every time my insurance and rego came around, my heart would sink. I would be looking at just under a $1000 for the year. At that time, it was a huge chunk of cash.

But I was living with my parents and not paying rent, and I could get by with fewer coffees at uni and packing my own lunch. When I moved out and had rent, utilities and my car to pay for, I got a third job.

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Even so, I had enough of a safety net that I was always going to be fine, and Mum would sneak cash into my wallet when I went home. I was immensely privileged and still am, so I am more than happy to pay extra on my car now. I celebrate every time I pay tax or rates (the only bill I get really annoyed about are my body corporate fees, and that’s because they just sent me an invoice for $3 for the cost of postage …. of their last bill!).

I had friends, however, who were not so lucky. They were entirely on their own, with parents who couldn’t afford to help out. They juggled work with uni and tried to avoid using their cars where possible. Even a $50 hike can be a lot when you have a very slim buffer in your bank account from paycheck to paycheck.

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In bringing these changes through, I can see the ACT Government has tried to account for the range of impacts that could be experienced by Canberrans, and I appreciate that. I would happily take more of a hike to my fees if it meant the concessions were broadened to people on low incomes and those with concession cards.

In the meantime, I’ll keep waiting for an EV to come on the market that suits my needs and try to keep my diesel guzzler in the garage as much as possible.

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Not knowing what year Prado you have, FactsR the Toyota Prado up until the end of 2017 only had 2500 kg towing capacity, after the end of 2017 when the 3000kg Prado was introduced so was the new 2.8 litre turbo intercooled diesel improved, the pollution control system on these later models including a DPF (diesel particulate filter) makes these engines less polluting than the majority of small petrol engine vehicles, so it’s difficult to understand that yours is a diesel gussler, Diesel engines need maintenance to perform at their peak and run clean, that doesn’t just mean regular filters and oil changed, injectors start to lose performance after a 100000k in most small diesel engines and need to be reconditioned or better replaced with genuine, yes they will still work but you will notice more fuel usage and black smoke under acceleration if you actually do monitor what your vehicle is doing, as for 3000kg and above towing capacity EV’s the battery and electrical motor weight increase in these large vehicles is causing concern with the braking capacity, this is becoming evident in the US with EV pickup trucks, EV’s wont save the world as renewable energy will never meet the demands to charge them.

Out of the 8.9 million barrels of gasoline consumed daily in the U.S. on average, only 1.8 million gallons, or approximately 20 percent, actually propel an internal combustion vehicle forward. The other 80 percent is wasted on heat and parasitic auxiliary components that draw away energy.

As the world begins its shift to EV proliferation, the good news is electric vehicles are far more energy efficient on the road.


GrumpyGrandpa5:37 pm 02 Feb 23

Zoya, diesel produces about 14% more power than petrol-powered motors and they deliver it at lower revs, meaning they are great for towing and hauling heavy loads. Hence your 4WD diesel is well-designed to tow your horses.

Weight is the enemy of EVs, whether it be a car, 4WD, bus or truck. When the ACT Government initially trialled the first electric bus, they had to reduce the passenger numbers because the buses were overweight. (Batteries in an EV car weigh a lot. Power a bus, 4WD or truck with them and you are hauling a lot of extra weight).

Yes, overseas, particularly in the USA, where everything is bigger, there are some 4WD style EVs capable of towing; although they are shockingly expensive (and that’s in USD). Throw in exchange rates and conversion from left-hand drive to right-hand drive and all I can say is….start saving now!

The forgotten issue in all of this emission talk is the “carbon cost” to build a new EV. Driving an old ICE, longer make a lot of sense. Sure, it produces more to drive, but its construction carbon cost has already been spent. If you buy a new EV you spend that upfront carbon cost again.

If you are excited about this maybe you have swallowed the PR guff & haven’t thought it through logically.
Why charge the same amount to a big gas guzzler and a small fuel efficient car – it makes no sense.

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