Toyota backs peak Australian motoring body amid exit of Tesla and Polestar


The FCAI’s claims of more expensive cars are “exactly the way the auto industry asked them to represent us” – and those who believe Toyota runs the FCAI should “do their research” – according to Toyota.

Toyota Australia is committed to the peak automotive governing body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), despite recent turmoil with the exit of Tesla and Polestar.

Speaking with Drive, Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley threw his weight behind the FCAI and empathised with the organisation in light of recent criticisms.

“First of all, with the FCAI, they are an independent body that represents the Australian automotive brands, and despite what’s happened in the last 72 hours, they remain representative of the vast majority of volume in the Australian market,” he said.

“They have a voice for the auto industry, it’s a challenging job.

“And from our perspective, we have one vote and one voice. We don’t run the FCAI, that’s a narrative being pedalled by people that really don’t do their research.

“Do we influence and have an influential voice as part of this industry? Well, I guess we do, we’re the market leader, but that voice is one voice,” he continued.

“There [are] lots of other people and organisations – auto companies – that influence that voice.

“Point two, the FCAI has done, I think, an admirable job representing the automotive industry for a long time, and in the most challenging of times, which is right now, they’ve also done a good job.

“It is incredibly challenging to satisfy all stakeholders, but they’ve represented the auto industry and the vast majority of the people in the auto industry, in exactly the way the auto industry has asked them to represent us.”

Most recently, Tesla and Polestar have forfeited membership to the FCAI given recent comments about the proposed New Vehicle Efficiency Standard (NVES).

In a submission to the Australian government, the FCAI claims the NVES will significantly increase the price of popular vehicles by up to $25,000 by 2029, a sentiment bandied about by NVES objectors and rival politicians.

The current board of the FCAI consists of chair Vinesh Bhindi (Mazda Australia managing director), deputy chair Matthew Callachor (Toyota Australia president and CEO), deputy chair Shaun Westcott (Mitsubishi Australia president and CEO), and treasurer Carolyn McMahon (Honda Australia director), as well director positions held by the respective heads of Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, Suzuki, and Stellantis.

However, the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), which counts brands like BMW, BYD, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Polestar, Tesla, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo among its members, was also quick to call the FCAI’s claims as “misleading”.

“Anyone who knows anything about efficiency standards actually work across the globe would recognise the FCAI’s public claims about price are not honest or credible,” EVC chief executive Behyad Jafari said in a statement.

Since Mr Jafari made his comments, multiple brands have gone on record to say higher prices to offset the costs of emissions fines are inevitable.

Regardless, Mr Hanley said Toyota and “the vast majority of volume manufacturers are still with FCAI and loyal to the FCAI”, and that the dealer governing body, which also proposed changes to NVES, are both important avenues to lobby for change.

“The other organisation that’s done an incredibly strong and good job is the Australia Automotive Dealer Association, the AADA, who represent the dealer networks of Australia for all the brands,” he said.

“I understand that a couple of brands, that clearly have their own wants and requirements, have decided to exit the FCAI, that’s their decision.

“But it won’t affect our commitment to the FCAI or the AADA, which we now have a vigorous and strong relationship with, and both of those bodies are incredibly important to the future of the auto industry.”

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Tung Nguyen

Tung Nguyen has been in the automotive journalism industry for over a decade, cutting his teeth at various publications before finding himself at Drive in 2024. With experience in news, feature, review, and advice writing, as well as video presentation skills, Tung is a do-it-all content creator. Tung’s love of cars first started as a child watching Transformers on Saturday mornings, as well as countless hours on PlayStation’s Gran Turismo, meaning his dream car is a Nissan GT-R, with a Liberty Walk widebody kit, of course.

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