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The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has become the first state/territory in Australia to announce the end of petrol car sales, reports the Australasian Fleet Management Association (AfMA).

ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr announced the zero-emission vehicle strategy, committing the territory to phasing out internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2035, ending ICE vehicle sales.

“We are heading down a path that the internal combustion engine vehicle will be as much of a novelty as a cassette tape or a black-and-white television in the context of technological change,” Barr said.

The Australian federal government is facing pressure to increase the uptake of electric vehicles while others are debating the realistic success of implementing similar strategies across the rest of the country, observes AfMA.

“ACT government’s absolutely able to go beyond what the federal government is committed to but as a federal government we deliver on our election commitments,” said Tanya Plibersek, federal environment minister.

Behyad Jafari, chief executive of the Electric Vehicle Council, has spoken on the need for the Australian government to provide clarity and certainty. “We need to urgently adopt nationally mandated fuel efficiency standards and they have to be as strong as they are in other markets,” Jafari said, according to AfMA.

However, South Australia’s Motor Trade Association foresees obstacles preventing the state likely other states and territories from following ACT’s petrol vehicle phase-out or complying with a similar federal government national initiative.

In the first six months of this year, only 459 of the 36,000 cars sold in South Australia were electric vehicles, illustrating the potential struggle should the state – or the federal government – introduce a petrol vehicle sales ban.

Motor Trade Association SA Chief Executive Paul Unerkov said the government’s plan to phase out carbon-emitting vehicles was unclear as it aimed for a net-zero emissions future. “We’ve got to get more than 30,000 electric vehicles in the market at an affordable price,” Unerkov said.

“The top three cars sold in Australia are utilities and they’re not currently available in an electric option,” he pointed out. “We know electric vehicles are coming, we’re not going to push them away, but the federal government needs to think this through.”

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