The Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) has expressed concern over the ACT government’s announcement that it will ban the sale of new petrol cars from 2035, saying it is locking Canberrans into a commitment “at a time where we really don’t know what the future holds”.
- AADA CEO James Voortman says electric vehicles may still not be affordable to lower socio-economic groups in eight years
- ACT Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury says the government expects the cost of zero emissions vehicles to drop
- Under the government’s plan, the sale of new petrol cars would be banned but selling second-hand petrol cars or driving one on ACT roads would remain legal
The ACT government yesterday became the first Australian jurisdiction to name the date for the end of sales of new fossil fuel-burning cars.
The ban is set to begin in 2035, meaning car dealers will be unable to sell any new cars that contain an internal combustion engine from then.
The ACT government signaled its intention to ban the sale of new petrol cars last year, when it signed up to the COP26 declaration to accelerate the transition to 100 per cent zero-emission vehicles.
The South Australian government has also previously indicated it is aiming for all of its new passenger vehicle sales to be electric by 2035.
Under the ACT’s plan, while the sale of new petrol cars would be banned, the sale of second-hand petrol cars, or driving a fossil fuel-powered car on ACT roads would remain legal.
The ACT’s commitment also does not currently include heavy vehicles such as shipping trucks, being focused on personal transport vehicles such as motorcycles, passenger cars and light trucks.
But some of the legislative mechanics of the ban are currently unclear, including whether fossil fuel cars bought outside of the ACT will be able to be registered to an ACT address after the ban takes effect.
However, the ACT government is set to announce more details about the plan on Wednesday, when it releases its complete ACT Zero Emissions Vehicles Strategy 2022-2030.
ACT Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury said announcing the ban now encouraged preparedness for the change and a smooth transition to a future where electric vehicles (EVs) were the standard.
“This 2035 goal is about being really clear that from that date we don’t intend for any new petrol vehicles to come onto the market,” he said.
“We’re about setting an early message now, being clear about where things are going and giving people time to organize the transition.
“The exact legal mechanism is yet to be determined, we’ll need to work closely with the federal government and with other states and territories, but our view is that by 2035 you should not be able to put a new petrol vehicle on the road .”
Car dealers fear lack of consumer affordability
Australian Automotive Dealer Association CEO James Voortman says he fears the ban will have affordability impacts on consumers.(ABC News: Mark Moore)
But CEO of the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA), James Voortman said he was concerned the cost of electric vehicles would not be lower enough before the introduction of the ban in 2035.
He said customers from lower socio-economic groups may find themselves unable to afford a car if EV prices did not drop in the next eight years.
“We know that electric vehicles are more expensive, and we hope that will change in the future, but what we’re seeing at the moment is that electric vehicles are not becoming cheaper,” he said.
“Critical minerals that are needed to manufacture these cars are scarce and they need to ramp up the mining of those minerals — such as lithium and cobalt — to ensure the price point that we need does emerge.”
Mr Voortman said even if the prices of electric vehicles dropped, a ban would still be irrelevant because the change in consumer behavior would have already been driven by the market.
“These vehicles might become irrelevant, [so] why ban them? If we are seeing the consumer uptake which we are of hybrids at the moment, I am sure that will translate to electric vehicles,” he said.
“If they are affordable and available en masse, people will buy them.
“I don’t think a ban is the right way to do this. We are really locking ourselves in at a time where we really don’t know what the future holds.”
But Mr Rattenbury said the government expected EVs to become more affordable as more became available over the next eight years.
“We are expecting a significant increase in the number of [zero emissions] vehicles available, and a price reduction,” he said.
“Already the ACT has the highest rate of zero-emission vehicle uptake in the country.
“This is the beginning of an orderly transition, saying ‘let’s stop making the problem worse’.”