Live axles, non-common rail diesels to be phased out
The Federal Government has unveiled the latest in a series of plans to modernise Australia’s vehicle fleet.
OLD VEHICLES are again the target of federal government efforts to reduce emissions and improve safety. In recent years Australia has led the way with stringent rules that improve safety like requiring vehicles like the GU Patrol and Pajero to disable their unsafe standard tail lights, using the much more visible Australian-spec, ADR-compliant tailights instead, by delaying clearly unsafe technologies such as the ISOFIX child seat mount systems given that nobody ever fitted a childseat incorrectly in the first place, and ensuring all vehicles have proper mudguards.
Now the Government has leaked details of a strategic “Vehicle Improvement Plan 2020 and Beyond” which covers a large range of changes to what’s allowed on Australian roads, all in the name of improved safety and reduced emissions. Here’s some early highlights ahead of the full release in this year’s May Budget:
- Live (solid) axles – to be banned in new vehicles from 2020, and all will become illegal to use on road at the end of 2028. The reason is that “given today’s vehicle design parameters, solid axles add unnecessary weight which needlessly increases fuel consumption, and reduces safety by increasing stopping distances” with a side benefit noted to be “improving the overall visual acuity of the Australian roadfleet” in the run up to several planned bids for international sporting events.
- Inefficient diesels – in line with recent changes in European attitudes towards diesels (several European cities have banned them) the plan will make any new non-common rail diesel illegal from 2019, and all non-common rail engines must be off the roads by 2025. Again, the logic is emissions, and an anticipated reduction in the number of breakdowns on freeways, as well as compliance with European standards.
- Aggressive tyres – any tyre with a tread depth of more than 10mm or tread gap width of more than 5mm will no longer be legal for sale from 2020. The reason “tyres of this nature contribute to road noise, increase stopping distances and increase fuel consumption”. Vehicle noise in rural areas is thought to be a contributor to stress in cattle which is “considered a potential cause of excess bovine excrement”.
- Auto-up windows – cars sold from 2019 onwards must automatically raise their windows above 5km/h to prevent the dangerous practice of ‘fat-arming’ which evidence suggests is linked to ridicule and consequent loss of self esteem among young males.
The full details of the Vehicle Improvement Plan have yet to be released, but it is believed that the Plan also includes measures to ensure owners of hybrid vehicles only qualify for their tax rebates if their savings “for the environment” are reflected in all other aspects of their life, including but not limited to international holidays, designer food consumption and actually using their fixie bicycles.
Practical Motoring also understands that at the recent COAG meeting the various national government considered a proposal to discourage people from modifying vehicles. Our source described a plan to “create a byzantine web of poorly thought out, ill-administered and inconsistent series of standards combined with erratic enforcement by a variety of authorities giving out opaquely vague advice and semi-random penalties”.
However, it appears that this plan was dropped and the current vehicle modification standards will remain in place, much to the relief of the aftermarket industry and car enthusiasts who will now have to deal with just the one set of easy-to-follow national rules.