Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

What does the UK's 2030 sales ban on new petrol and diesel cars mean for Australia?

Even the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid will be removed from sale in the UK next decade as part of a new ban.

The world is moving towards electric vehicles (EVs) faster than many people realise, and the consequences for Australian motorists could be significant.

Whether those consequences are positive or negative remains up in the air and largely depends on how quickly the local industry can adapt to a sudden surge of EVs by the end of the decade.

British prime minister Boris Johnson announced this week that the United Kingdom would ban the sale of all new petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2030, a full decade ahead of its original timeline announced in 2017.

Instead, all new cars sold in the UK from next decade will either need to have either a fully electric or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain, with even hybrid models set to phased out by 2035.

It’s part of a wider push that will see the government invest £4 billion ($A7.2b) in a raft of clean energy initiatives to allow the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

The ban on internal-combustion engines is a major part of the plan and given the right-hand-drive nature of the market, it raises questions about the future of Australian cars.

Currently, the UK produces approximately 2.0 per cent of cars sold in Australia (15,100 year-to-date to October), but as a major right-hand-drive market, it has been crucial to getting countless models signed off to be sold locally, as it allows carmakers greater economies-of-scale when developing them.

EVs only currently make up about seven per cent of the UK market, but that’s still well ahead of Australia, where only 0.3 per cent of sales in 2020 have been EVs and PHEVs. When conventional hybrids are added (such as the popular Toyota RAV4), that figure jumps to 6.7 per cent; but obviously that’s still well short of 100 per cent.

The current Australian government hasn’t publicly committed to anything as radical as a complete ban on internal-combustion engines, or offered any significant incentives to EVs buyers like many governments around the world, but it has stated in a report released earlier in 2020 that it expects up to 50 per cent market share for EVs by 2030. However, that will be driven entirely by the private sector and a natural market shift.

In contrast, the UK government’s plan will not only ban fossil-fuel power but includes a £1.3b ($A2.3b) investment in EV charging points across the country.

Behyad Jafari, CEO of the Electric Vehicle Council, told CarsGuide that the continued lack of action from Australian governments in promoting EVs has already seen local consumers miss out on models as carmakers favour markets with greater demand. And if the UK follows through with its plan, then that situation could become worse. 

“We’ve done nothing as a country,” Mr Jafari said. “It’s very easy to say, ‘well, they’re in a different position to us’, but they’ve put themselves into that position.”

He added: “Over the long march of time, all cars will become electric, but the question is will Australians have to wait 10, 20 or 30 years to catch up to the rest of the world?”

The UK is not alone in banning petrol and diesel engines, with several other major markets also putting a timeframe on phasing them out. Norway wants to have them gone by 2025, Sweden by 2030 and France by 2040.