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Major OEM wants design rule changes to open up car options

Car giant Mitsubishi is calling for reform to Australia’s design rules to allow more models into the country and achieve the aims of the new emissions scheme.

Mitsubishi is the latest body to demand change, following the MTAA’s submission earlier this year to the New Vehicle Emissions Scheme  where it argued complex design rules were inhibiting car producers from fully opening up their ranges to the Australian car parc.

Both bodies have argued that without reform, the design rules will undermine the intentions of the legislation to increase choice for consumers, lower average vehicle emissions and save drivers money.

Top tethers for the back middle seat, VIN numbers, fuel consumption numbers and frontal protection standards are just some of the areas it wants harmonised to international standards.

This would allow fewer delays and costly modifications which have inhibited OEMs from bringing some models to Australia, it argues.


Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited has argued, with the act in force within six months and counting for manufacturers under the emissions scheme to begin on July 1 2025, the government needed to act as a matter of urgency.

“The Australian government should consider reforming the Australian Type Approval and Australian Design Rule processes to assist delivery of vehicles that support the legislation,” MMAL said in a statement.

“This would maximise benefit to new car buyers as well as the environment, through a wider choice of available vehicles, at the earliest possible time and the lowest possible cost.

“The largest barrier to Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) introducing these vehicles is the lengthy Australian Type Approval process. Depending on the vehicle, this process can take anywhere from 18-24 months. This factors in the time taken to obtain international type approvals in the first instance, undertaking development and obtaining compliance information for additional unique Australian ADRs, as well as production and shipping time.

The timeline also includes up to three business months for the government to assess an Australian Type Approval application. There are no service level agreements that confirm if it could be completed earlier.

“Manufacturers follow strict quality assurance practices, which generally require that production not commence until the Australian Type Approval is achieved. Vehicle importation regulations also prohibit vehicle shipping until the type approval has been issued.”

MMAL wants a process where vehicles type approved in established global markets, such as Japan, the European Union and the UK, be accepted into Australia without needing additional unique modifications and approvals.

“This would reduce processing time and development costs. It would also support OEMs to introduce more fuel-efficient vehicles in time for the NVES legislation commencement date. Ongoing, it would remove barriers to entry and allow increased consumer vehicle choice and speed to market.”

Options shut-out due to red-tape

As a case study of the problems posed by the mix of rules, Mitsubishi has highlighted its recent eK X EV where the Australian market study further highlighted the difficulty in navigating current type approval and ADR requirements.

“The vehicle conforms to Japanese Type Approval and safety requirements, however the cost and time investment to update the vehicle to achieve Australian Type Approval and to conform with ADRs makes it uneconomic in its current form as an entry city car. These factors currently make Australian importation of this small electric vehicle highly challenging.”

MMAL calls for ADR harmonisation

Additionally, MMAL calls for all ADRs to be fully harmonised with vehicle regulations established under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), 1958 Agreement concerning the Adoption of Uniform Conditions of Approval and Reciprocal Recognition of Approval for Motor Vehicle Equipment and Parts. The Australian Government is already a contracting party and participates in the UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29).

Equivalent standards in other advanced markets such as Japan, the EU, UK and other jurisdictions should also be accepted. This would further accelerate new vehicle adoption in this country, with no impact on safety.

One unique Australian requirements MMAl uses as an example is the second-row centre seat top tether which it argues could be amended to unconditionally accept EU-approved ISOFix restraint systems.

It also suggests- VIN labels required  in addition to permanent VIN markings already on a vehicle, as dictated by international regulations, should go.

MMAL also suggests ADR 69/00 covering full frontal impact occupant protection could be replaced with harmonised European frontal collision requirements.

Of particular importance to NVES implementation, ADR 81/02 Fuel Consumption Labelling for Light Vehicles requires amendment to define the test procedures required to create NVES data.

Presently ADR 81/02 is primarily a unique Australian labelling regulation that requires a unique windscreen-mounted fuel consumption label.

Mandatory information

MMAL also favours making it mandatory inclusion of fuel consumption and CO2 data into the existing Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide  which is currently voluntary.

This provides an easy and convenient platform from which consumers can compare vehicle fuel consumption, CO2 and energy consumption. This approach is consistent with the recent removal of unique compliance labelling requirements in favour of the on-line Register of Approved Vehicles implemented under the Road Vehicle Standards Act.

MMAL’s preference is that ADR 81/02 be replaced with a new ADR that nominates the test procedures required for NVES, and that those procedures be fully harmonised with UN ECE regulations and their internationally accepted equivalents.


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