Car manufacturers have increased the amount they have spent on advertising SUVs and Utes to Australians in the last decade, and this has been accompanied by the increasing demand for larger automobiles, prompting calls for a halt to advertising vehicles that emit the most pollution.
Advertising budgets for SUVs and light commercial vehicles – a class comprising four-wheel drive vehicles- went from $100 million in 2010 to $197m in 2022, as per research on television, digital, and radio. Printing and cinema advertising, collected by the climate-related group Comms Declare.
Advertising spending on digital SUVs grew sevenfold between $7.8m from 2010 and will reach $51.5m in 2022. Meanwhile, the amount spent on commercial vehicles for light use was up 24 times in the same period, ranging between $1.6m to $38.3m.
Automobile manufacturers have been trying to increase the sales of bigger cars in the course of Australians changing their preferences in the same period, resulting in a growth of 80% in sales of these vehicles simultaneously. Two-thirds of the new car sold in Australia by 2022 included 4WDs, SUVs, or commercial vehicles that were light in weight.
These categories also comprised eight of the top 10 top models in 2022, as per Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries figures, which represents a dramatic change from a decade ago when hatchbacks and sedans dominated the ultimate list of popular cars in Australia.
In the meantime, car manufacturers drastically reduced spending on advertising traditional passenger cars. In 2010, carmakers spent around $191m advertising small, micro, medium, large, and small passenger cars. However, in 2022, this amount was down to less than $19 million.
The market share in passenger vehicles has fallen by 55% from 2011 to barely 19% by 2022.
In their report, Rammed, “The advertising that’s destroying the climate targets, Comms Declare flagged the instant asset write-off program as one of the factors that could have pushed people to buy heavier and more polluting cars in recent years. However, they also noted that the threshold would be reduced from $150,000 to $20k from the beginning of the year.
Thinktanks such as Grattan Institute, The Australia Institute, and other transport academics have determined fringe benefit taxes, a temporary full expensing policy, and loss tax offset for carry-backs as tax advantages to make larger vehicles more accessible reach for more Australians, particularly for small-sized business owners, regardless of industry.
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The report highlights the data from the government showing that reductions in transport-related C02 emissions from 2022 to now have been slowed down. It warns that if we don’t rein in the expansion of more emission vehicles, the transport sector will remain Australia’s most significant source of emissions in 2030.
Passenger cars and light commercial vehicles contribute 60 percent of the emission from Australia’s transportation, that amount to over 10% of the country’s total emissions.
Despite the Albanese government’s pledge to establish a fuel efficiency standard, Australia’s laws remain among the least relaxed in comparison countries. This has led to manufacturers bringing their most efficient models onto the Australian market due to the absence of these requirements as well as reserving larger quantities of electric cars for countries that have stricter regulations.
The Comms Declare report found that 55% of new passenger vehicles sold within Australia in 2021 have an emissions level greater than 160 g/km. This is in contrast to only 10 percent in Europe. A recent study by The Australian Institute also found an increase in SUV ownership, which implies that Australians spend an additional $13 billion a year on fuel for their cars.
It is worth noting that the Comms Declare report also observed an evolution in how carmakers allocate their marketing budgets, moving away from conventional media.
Of the $600 million invested in automotive advertising across Australia in 2022, More than 60% of it was for deals with sponsors of brands “aligning with major sporting events, environmental initiatives, home improvement, music events, social and medical services, adventure and holidays.”
“All these sponsorships are intended to increase brand recognition and build trust with the customers. For environmental initiatives, this amounts to clear greenwashing.”
“Brands blithely align high-polluting vehicles with the enjoyment of activities in nature, all the while causing damage to it.”
The report critiques Toyota, which has 21.4 percent of the market and is the biggest automaker in Australia.
The report found that Toyota’s digital advertising budget has focused on specific models, like those of the HiLux and LandCruiser, among the most polluting models. However, the report reveals Toyota’s involvement in National Tree Day and accuses Toyota of greenwashing.
Comms Declare is calling for an end to advertising for carbon-based fuels. As a first step, bans on advertising for only the most significant automobiles can be “a sensible and achievable method of reducing emissions.”
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Belinda Noble, Comms Declare, founder, stated, “Carmakers are taking us for a ride, pushing sales of the largest, most profitable vehicles while ignoring the health, safety and climate impacts.”
“Restricting advertising of these supersized gas guzzlers should be considered to help reverse this dangerous trend,” Noble declared.
Robin Smit, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney and director and founder of Transportation Energy/Emission Research, said: “The reduction in emissions from simply shifting to smaller cars is similar to emissions from domestic aviation and domestic shipping combined.”
Dr. Chris Jones, president of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, demanded a road user cost in Australia to allow for a lower price to run lighter vehicles and to stop the trend of SUVs and utes.
A Toyota spokesperson stated, “There has been a significant increase in demand for SUVs, including here in Australia,” in the last two decades.
“As a result, Toyota Australia has prioritised the delivery and allocation of this category to meet growing consumer demand.”
Concerning Toyota’s support of National Tree Day, the spokesperson stated that “over 66,000 communities across Australia have benefited from planting trees and shrubs” during the 24 years that Toyota has been involved in the event.