The Labor Party is not taxing your ute, despite what Facebook ads tell you

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Labor has come under attack from the Coalition government with targeted Facebook ads claiming Labor leader Bill Shorten wants to tax popular car brands like Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, and other four wheel drives and sports utilities.

The onslaught of the ads follows Labor’s announcement of new vehicle emissions standards and a target of 50% of new car sales being electric vehicles by 2030. The Facebook ads are targeted at users with an interest in certain vehicles using Facebook’s ad manager, Nick Evershed at the Guardian reported on Twitter. Business Insider has not been able to independently verify this claim.

Despite the scare tactics of the Facebook ads, the truth is Labor’s tax deduction plan and its pollution regulations will not tax Hilux utes, Ford Rangers, or any other four wheel drive or SUV.

In reality, Labor’s electric vehicle policy has only one tax-related measure and it isn’t related to SUVs – a deduction of 20 per cent depreciation on electric vehicles worth more than $20,000 for businesses. It also includes new pollution regulation on car retailers in line with American emission standards – at 105Co2/km for light vehicles.

On Twitter, the government’s small business minister Michaelia Cash stuck to the message of the ads and called on Labor to “explain to Australia’s tradies why they want to ban their favourite utes”. Bill Shorten shut those calls down and said the target “doesn’t mean that we’re going to confiscate someone’s ute in 2030.”

Despite the Coalition backing electric cars for years, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Labor’s plan “a war on the weekend” and played into the fear of weekend 4WD drivers across Australia. He claimed that Labor’s plan means the Hilux is “out”.

“The sort of vehicles that Bill Shorten wants you to drive, you can’t get one for less than $45,000 and it won’t tow that boat. It won’t tow that trailer,” Morrison said at a press conference on Monday in Queensland. “That’s part of Australian’s way of life. What Bill Shorten is seeking to do is take away your choices.”

Climateworks project manager, Sarah Fumei, told Business Insider Australia that Labor’s plan for emissions standards do not mean people will not be able to buy utes in Australia.”The point about the vehicle emissions standards is because they act as an average across the entire fleet it is designed to promote flexibility,” she said.

Instead, Fumei said this flexibility would allow car retailers to continue selling big cars that emitted more than the standard, so long as they also sold cars that emitted less. “You can sell vehicles that are above the Co2 limit so long as you offset that by selling vehicles that are below the limit,” she said.

Fumei also noted that Australia has historically had no standards for vehicle Co2 emissions and even if we move to US standards we will still be five years behind European standards. “Those [US] standards cover approximately 80% of the global vehicle market, China, India, the USA, Canada.”

The political fight over big cars is driven by the knowledge that Australians love their SUVs. Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data shows Australians now buy more SUVs than any other kind of car, with SUVs and light commercial vehicles representing 67.5 per cent of the new car market.

In good news, the growth of electric cars in the market doesn’t mean you need to live without your prized SUV.

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