It’s official: ACT to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2035 – everything you need to know

it’s-official:-act-to-ban-petrol-and-diesel-cars-from-2035-–-everything-you-need-to-know

Following leaked information earlier this week, the Australian Capital Territory has confirmed it will become the nation’s first jurisdiction to impose an expiry date on new petrol and diesel car sales.


Alex Misoyannis

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The Australian Capital Territory has officially become the nation’s first state or territory to announce a date for the end of petrol and diesel vehicle sales: 2035.

Initially reported by mainstream media outlets earlier this week – based on government leaks – the ACT aims for 80 to 90 per cent of new light vehicles (passenger cars, SUVs, utes and vans) sold by 2030 to be electric or hydrogen powered, ahead of the 2035 deadline.

The 2035 date refers to the end of petrol and diesel new-car sales – referred to as to “start phasing out light internal combustion engine vehicles from 2035” – rather than used ones.



Owners of petrol and diesel vehicles in the ACT will still be able to drive their current car after 2035, and/or sell it to another motorist.

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However, no other Australian jurisdiction has announced an end date for the sale of petrol or diesel new-car sales – though some, including Victoria, have introduced road-user charges to tax electric vehicles in lieu of fuel excise paid by the owners of petrol or diesel vehicles.



The ban on petrol and diesel cars in the ACT by 2035 is expected to leave a massive financial gap in government budgets, because the policy will slash tax revenue from fuel excise collected from petrol and diesel vehicles.

Alongside the 2035 ban, the ACT has announced an “ambitious target” for 80 to 90 per cent of ‘light vehicle’ sales to comprise ‘zero-emission’ vehicles by 2030 – though there are currently no penalties should the territory miss this target.

Other aspects of the territory’s new zero-emission vehicle strategy include switching the ACT Government’s fleet to electric or hydrogen power, expanding the public charging network to 180 points by 2025, and excluding petrol and diesel new cars from taxi and rideshare fleets by 2030.



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“With technology rapidly evolving, now is the time for the ACT to join other jurisdictions around the world in supporting a transition to ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles). The transition is happening rapidly – manufacturers have made that clear,” Chief Minister and Minister for Climate Action, Andrew Barr, said in a media statement.

“It’s important now for Australian jurisdictions to start preparing for a future private vehicle market that is predominantly (zero emissions).”

The ACT’s decision has attracted praise from supporters of electric cars – and criticism from those who say a range of affordable electric cars on sale by 2035 is no certainty.



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“The ACT Government is making the tough reform decisions now to ease an inevitable transition that’s only a decade away. The Territory has shone a green light to car makers and charging manufacturers to come and invest now,” said Electric Vehicle Council chief Behyad Jafari.

“The new 2035 ban is achievable and in the best interests of us all. The International Energy Agency tells us it is absolutely necessary to achieve net zero by 2050.

“Nearly a majority (42 per cent) of the world’s car market have incoming bans on (petrol and diesel cars), while 16 car makers are phasing out petrol and diesel cars. Five years ago, both those numbers were zero. Can you imagine what the world will look like five years from now?”



However, CEO of the Australian Automotive Dealer Association, James Voortman, said: “We still hold concerns around the foreshadowed phase out of (petrol and diesel cars) from 2035, but are pleased that the Government has said it will review this milestone to 2035.

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“In other global markets (petrol and diesel car) bans have been preceded by vehicle emission standards and generous incentives, neither of which currently exist in Australia.

“If we have learned anything in the past two years it is that the new vehicle supply chain is incredibly fragile. While we hope that we are able to supply 100 per cent (zero emissions vehicles) by 2035, there are too many unknown variables to say with confidence that we can – reviewing this target in the lead up to 2035 is a sensible commitment.

Both sides of the industry have called for a wide-reaching federal electric vehicle strategy – rather than a state-by-state system, as is currently the case.

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“We agree with the ACT strategy that the Federal Government should take a leadership role on the emergence of (zero emissions vehicles) and would urge a national approach on areas such as emissions standards, vehicle taxation and vehicle standards – leaving it to the individual state and territory governments to set their own policies is not in the best interest of consumers or businesses,” said Mr Voortman.

Meanwhile, Mr Jafari said: “We need the federal government to adopt fuel efficiency standards in line with those in Europe, the USA, and New Zealand. As a country coming from behind, we now need them urgently.



“Taking action to price registration by emissions sets a clear expectation that lower and zero emissions vehicles should be better off compared to more heavily polluting vehicles under any future reform.

“The ACT has made itself a beacon for other governments. There is no excuse to take the lazy approach of further taxing EVs now and promising to do better later.”

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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