Calls for petrol ban to speed up electric swap

One in four new cars bought by Australians could be electric as early as 2025 but governments should set a date for the end of petrol car sales to speed up the transition, energy experts recommend.

Australia also needs new policies to roll out vehicle chargers and put pressure on electric car prices, they say, and should recruit celebrities and sports stars to create the “biggest public mobilisation the nation has ever seen”.

The recommendations come from a group of experts set to appear at Energy Next, a two-day renewable energy event held in Sydney from July 18.

They also come three weeks after the federal government launched the National Electric Vehicle Strategy and announced new funding for highway vehicle chargers and green car loan subsidies.

EnergyLab chief executive Megan Fisher, who assists climate tech start-ups, said Australians were increasingly choosing electric vehicles even though they faced hurdles.

She predicted one in four new car sales would be electric in less than two years.

“Best estimates are a doubling each year which would have us at 25 per cent by 2025,” she said.

“We know we need to go faster but price point, availability and range anxiety are creating too much of a drag on EV adoption.”

But predictions among the group of 21 energy experts surveyed varied, with Wattwatchers spokesman Murray Hogwarth naming 2026 as the year Australia would see 25 per cent electric vehicle adoption but others, including EcoEnviro director Dr Richard Finlay-Jones and ACA Research senior account manager Amelia McVeigh not expecting the milestone until closer to 2030.

Electric vehicle sales reached eight per cent in Australia during April, up from 3.8 per cent in 2022.

Ms McVeigh said changing sentiment towards electric vehicles made forecasts difficult and with the new national policy, state incentives and greater demand altered expectations.

“Looking at those in the market for a new vehicle in the next 12 months, over one fifth are considering an EV,” she said.

“EV costs are coming down, with analysts predicting price parity on at least some models by 2025.”

But Brett Milne from renewable energy firm Karit said the adoption of electric vehicles was still too slow and more states should introduce a deadline to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars.

“To speed up this transition, Australia needs to ban the import of (internal combustion engine) vehicles as early as possible through emissions standards or other means and put in place incentives that equalise the cost of an EV with a similar standard ICE car,” he said.

“Consumers should be able to shift from their current standard of ICE vehicle to a similar standard of EV with no price or quality penalty.”

The ACT is the only Australian jurisdiction to name a date for the end of petrol and diesel new car sales, though a growing list of countries have set a deadline including Norway, China, the UK, US and countries in the European Union.

Other recommendations from the energy experts included incentives for petrol stations to install electric chargers, a higher luxury car tax threshold to reduce prices and a star-studded public information campaign Mr Hogwarth said should “make the nation’s electrification journey the biggest public mobilisation the nation has ever seen”.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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