Cars will inevitably be taxed according to their exhaust emission ratings, the Australian motor industry has conceded.
Conservationists are calling on South Australia to take the lead in slapping a tax on vehicles where the fee rises according to the amount of emissions. The tax would be at new-sale time or on annual registration renewals.
The Motor Trade Association acknowledged the growing interest in vehicles that are less harmful to the environment.
“At some point, governments will tax vehicles on their emissions and greenhouse gas,” MTA state executive director John Chapman told The Advertiser .
“We are not advocating that, but it will come.”
Mr Chapman said the swing to smaller cars and the flattening off of large-car sales was due to motorists' concern about fuel economy.
“People are more environmentally aware and wanting to know how we can reduce the (environmental) footprint and what they can do,” he said.
Mr Chapman said motor vehicles were only a partial contributor to greenhouse gases “but our industry needs to be concerned about these issues.”
Some countries already have vehicle taxes depending on each model's carbon dioxide emissions.
In Australia, each new car must carry a sticker on the windscreen showing its officially-rated fuel consumption in litres/100km and its “greenhouse” C02 emissions in grams/km. The latter figure determines levels of taxing overseas.
The Conservation Council in SA wants a similar system here.
“It has to be user pays,” said council chief executive Julie Pettet. “If you are responsible for pollution you are going to have to pay.”
Ms Pettet said such taxing should not be just punitive but also reward those doing the right thing such as using public transport. She added the taxes should be a federal activity.
Toyota Prius: 1.5-litre petrol and electric (4.4litre/100km)
Fiat Punto: 1.4-litre petrol (5.7)
Peugeot 207CC: 1.6-litre petrol (5.8)
Citroen C3: 1.6-litre petrol (6.2)
Mercedes-Benz A150: 1.5-litre petrol (6.7)
Holden Astra: 1.8-litre petrol (7.4)
Honda Civic: 1.8litre petrol (6.9)