Carbon emissions from utes, large SUVs and light commercial vehicles are rising in Australia and are exceeding the industry's own emission reduction targets by a significant amount, according to a new report.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries revealed findings from its latest study into transport pollution in Australia on Monday, comparing emissions in 2022 to voluntary targets adopted in 2020.
The report found pollution from passenger cars and light SUVs had fallen to an average of 131 grams of carbon for every kilometre travelled, down from its goal of 146 grams.
But carbon emissions from heavy SUVs and light commercial vehicles, including utes, rose to 212.8 grams per kilometre in 2022, far exceeding the industry target of 189 grams.
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber said a lack of large electric vehicles available in Australia, a shortage of batteries, and the absence of a national carbon emissions standard had contributed to rising pollution.
"Globally, there is currently a limited supply of batteries and supporting technology to meet the demand for all new vehicles and, in particular, the bigger vehicles which a large proportion of Australians choose to buy," he said.
"Development work is being undertaken by car makers across the world to overcome these challenges. However we are not likely to see a significant improvement in the availability of these vehicles at prices many Australians can afford until at least the end of this decade."
Mr Weber, whose organisation represented 68 car brands, also blamed a focus on electric vehicle adoption for rising pollution, saying this approach overlooked "the buying preferences of Australian consumers, market supply realities, price and the very real impact of other low-emission technologies".
High-polluting utes currently represent five of the 10 best-selling vehicles in Australia, topped by the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux, neither of which are available as a hybrid or electric vehicle.
One electric ute has been launched in Australia so far, the LDV eT60, with another five slated to arrive by 2025.
Climate Council advocacy head Dr Jennifer Rayner said the rising emissions proved the federal government should introduce national emissions standards to ensure car makers brought their most fuel efficient vehicles into the country.
"Car manufacturers set themselves a weak voluntary standard and still missed it by a mile last year for some types of vehicles," Dr Rayner said.
"The Australian government needs to put in place strong fuel efficiency standards as soon as possible so that manufacturers are incentivised to bring the same lower and zero-emissions cars to Australia that they're already selling overseas."
A fuel efficiency standard was addressed in the federal government's National Electric Vehicle Strategy discussion paper, which attracted more than 500 submissions last year.
A response is expected before the government's May budget.