ACT to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2035 – report

Australia’s capital plans to stop selling new petrol and diesel vehicles starting in the middle of the next decade, according to unconfirmed reports.

Up to nine out of every 10 new cars sold in the Australian Capital Territory could be electric until 2030, before banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, according to unconfirmed media reports in the past 24 hours.

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

However, some specific details about the ACT proposal have been released and whether the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2035 – or if petrol and diesel cars start disappearing from showrooms from 2035 (and banned entirely at a later date).

Even though there is record demand for electric cars in Australia – and manufacturers can’t keep up with supply, leading to long waiting times – “new incentives and programs” are said to be introduced in the ACT to boost electric vehicle sales. However, details about these plans also remain scarce at the moment.

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

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

“The phasing out of new fossil fuel vehicles in the ACT from 2035 will bring similar benefits to residents with cheaper cars to drive, cleaner, quieter roads and less dependence on foreign oil ,” said Lindsay Soutar, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

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

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

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

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

“Instead of a crude ban on [internal combustion engines]the best way to reduce emissions is to set a technology-agnostic CO2 standard so that manufacturers have a clear understanding of what they need to achieve and are given the freedom to deploy any technology to achieve this purpose,” Voortman said.

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

Alex Misoyanis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his website, Redline. He contributed to 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 reviewing magazines of cars at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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