A man's hand charging a while electic car.

Fears electric vehicles will still not be affordable for many by 2035, when ACT bans sales of new gasoline cars

The Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) has expressed concern at the ACT Government’s announcement that it will ban the sale of new petrol cars from 2035, saying it is placing Canberrans in a commitment “at a time when we really… don’t know what that future holds”.

The ACT government yesterday became the first Australian jurisdiction to give the date for the end of sales of new fossil fuel cars.

The ban is scheduled to begin in 2035, meaning that car dealers will not be able to sell new cars with internal combustion engines from then on.

The ACT government signaled its intention to ban the sale of new petrol cars last year when it signed the COP26 declaration to accelerate the transition to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles.

The South Australian government has also previously indicated that it is aiming to have all of its new car sales electric by 2035.

Under the ACT’s plan, while selling new gasoline cars would be banned, selling used gasoline cars or driving a fossil fuel-powered car on ACT roads would remain legal.

Also, ACT’s commitments currently do not include heavy vehicles such as transport trucks, but instead focus on passenger transport vehicles such as motorcycles, passenger cars and light trucks.

However, some of the legislative mechanics of the ban are currently unclear, including whether cars purchased using fossil fuels outside of the ACT can be registered to an ACT address after the ban takes effect.

However, the ACT government will provide more details on the plan on Wednesday when it releases its full ACT strategy for zero-emission vehicles 2022-2030.

Shane Rattenbury, Minister for ACT Emission Reductions, said the announcement of the ban now encourages preparation for the change and a smooth transition to a future where electric vehicles (EVs) are the norm.

“This 2035 target is about making it really clear that we don’t want to launch any new petrol vehicles after that date,” he said.

“The exact legal mechanism is yet to be determined, we need to work closely with the federal government and with other states and territories, but we don’t think you should be able to put a new gasoline vehicle on the road by 2035.”

Car dealers fear a lack of affordability for consumers

James Voortman, CEO of the Australian Automotive Dealer Association, fears the ban will have an impact on consumer affordability.(ABC News: Mark Moore)

But the CEO of the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA), James Voortman, said he was concerned the cost of electric vehicles would not fall enough ahead of the ban’s introduction in 2035.

He said customers from lower socioeconomic groups would not be able to afford a car if electric vehicle prices did not fall over the next eight years.

“Critical minerals needed to make these cars are in short supply, and they need to ramp up mining of those minerals — like lithium and cobalt — to ensure the price we need is produced.”

Mr Voortman said that even if EV prices fell, a ban would still be irrelevant as the change in consumer behavior would have already been driven by the market.

“These vehicles could become irrelevant [so] why ban them? If we see hybrids being adopted by consumers now, I’m sure that will carry over to electric vehicles,” he said.

“I don’t think a ban is the way to go. We’re really locking ourselves in at a time where we really don’t know what the future holds.”

But Mr Rattenbury said the government expects electric vehicles to become more affordable as more become available over the next eight years.

“We expect the number to increase significantly [zero emissions] available vehicles and a price reduction,” he said.

“The ACT already has the highest rate of zero-emission vehicles in the country.

“This is the beginning of an orderly transition that says, ‘Let’s stop making this worse.'”

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