ACT to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2035 – report


Australia’s capital plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles starting from the middle of next decade, according to unconfirmed reports.

Up to nine out of every 10 new cars sold in the Australian Capital Territory may be electric by 2030, ahead of a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, according to unconfirmed reports in the media in the past 24 hours.

Mainstream news outlets The Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian have reported the ACT Government will later this week release a strategy document detailing a plan for 80 to 90 per cent of ‘light vehicle’ sales – passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles such as most utes and vans – to be electric by 2030.

However, few specific details about the ACT proposal have been released, and whether petrol and diesel new-car sales will be banned by 2035 – or if petrol and diesel cars will start to disappear from showrooms from 2035 (and banned entirely at a later date).

Even though there is record demand for electric cars in Australia – and manufacturers cannot keep up with supply, leading to lengthy waiting times – “new incentives and programs” will reportedly be introduced in the ACT to grow electric vehicle sales. However details on these plans also remain scarce for the time being.

The ACT Government currently offers two years of free registration for new “zero-emission” (fully-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell) vehicle purchases until 30 June 2024, as well as a stamp duty exemption.

The current strategy has been welcomed by supporters of zero-emission cars, and criticised by those who say such vehicles are getting a free boost.

“Phasing out new fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the ACT from 2035 will bring similar benefits for residents with cheaper to run cars, cleaner, quieter streets, and less reliance on foreign oil,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Lindsay Soutar.

However, CEO of the Australian Automotive Dealer Association, James Voortman, said: “We have serious concerns that this policy will have adverse consequences for the automotive industry, the people they employ, and consumers in the ACT.

“Electric vehicles are currently more expensive and at present there is a distinct lack of choice in available makes and models. These factors may well change by 2035, but this ban has been foreshadowed in an environment where there is great uncertainty.

“It is unclear how the ACT will enforce this ban and prevent consumers from simply purchasing an [internal combustion engined] vehicle across the border and re-registering it here as a used car.”

The AADA has renewed calls from Australia’s chief automotive industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), for the implementation of a national CO2 emissions standard.

“Rather than a crude ban on [internal combustion engines], the best way to lower emissions is to put a technology-agnostic CO2 standard in place, so that Manufacturers have a clear understanding of what they need to achieve and are given the freedom to deploy any technology to achieve that goal,” Voortman said.

“The transition to low emissions vehicles will have major consequences for Canberrans and all Australians and it is critical that we develop a national strategy to facilitate the transition.”

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he
started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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