Grattan: How To End Petrol And Diesel Car Sales By 2035 

Zero emissions vehicles - Grattan Institute

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars should be phased out in Australia by 2035 says the Grattan Institute – and it has recommendations to help make it happen.

While Australia’s electricity sector is cleaning up its act (but needs to do so faster), the transport sector remains a major issue. It was responsible for 18 per cent of Australia’s emissions last year and over 60 per cent of these emissions were from light vehicles.

There were 20.1 million registered motor vehicles as at the end of January this year, an increase of 1.7% over 2020.

The Grattan Institute says to address the light vehicle emissions challenge, Australia needs to “supercharge” the switch to electric cars. While the best policy would be an economy-wide emissions price, this is unlikely to happen and relying on market forces is risky.

“The climate clock is ticking,” says the Institute. “We can’t wait around for an emissions price.”

Instead, it suggests the Federal Government whack a mandatory emissions limit on light vehicles and reduce the limit to zero by 2035. This would of course also see the end of hybrids.

However, this isn’t all that needs to be done – zero-emissions vehicles need to be more affordable more rapidly and recharging facilities more ubiquitous.

On the affordability front, the Institute says zero-emissions vehicles should be exempt from stamp duty, import duty and luxury car tax. Some jurisdictions have already made inroads on this front:

  • The ACT recently removed stamp duties on EVs
  • Reduced stamp duty in Queensland
  • Electric vehicles are exempt from the luxury vehicle rate of stamp duty in Victoria
  • The NSW Government will remove stamp duty for all zero-emissions vehicles with a purchase price of under $78,000 from September this year.

Grattan notes scrapping stamp duty would slash the cost of new electric vehicles in Australia by up to 6.5 per cent.

What About Subsidies?

As for direct subsidies, the Institute says EVs are generally purchased by people more motivated by new green tech and who are less sensitive to price, meaning the more well-to-do among us. But if subsidies for zero-emissions vehicles are to be offered, it would be more equitable to target lower-priced models, or towards light commercial vehicles suited to Australian conditions.

On a related note, New Zealand recently introduced a battery electric vehicle subsidy of $8,625 new/ $3,450 used for vehicles with a purchase price of less than $80,000 (AUD ~$74,000).

Charging Infrastructure

In terms of charging infrastructure, it says:

  • Governments should mandate all new buildings with off-street parking to include charger-ready cabling
  • All leased dwellings with off-street parking to have at least one electrical outlet near the car park
  • Local vehicle charging needs to be available for residents of homes without off-street parking

… and for all this to be in place by 2030.

What About Trucks?

As for other vehicle types, the Institute recommends increasing the truck width limit in Australia from 2.5m to 2.6m to enable a wider range of electric trucks to be available here.

Earlier this year, Tesla said in a submission to the National Transport Commission that Australia wouldn’t see the Tesla Semi on our roads unless changes were made to maximum width. In the USA, the limit is 2.6m and in the EU, 2.55m. The Tesla Semi is 2534 mm – and that extra 3.4cm is enough to make it ineligible here.

The Grattan Institute also says there should be federal government support for trials of zero emissions heavy vehicles and a renewable hydrocarbon standard for diesel, aviation, and shipping fuel introduced.

The report – Towards net zero: Practical policies to reduce transport emissions – can be downloaded here.

Related: Home solar power and electric cars.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. Isn’t e power wonderful. When I have to tow a trailer generator to charge my ride BUT I don’t want others to pay my way through subsidies etc. When it’s old , passed use bydate I like the idea to recycle. In the mean time I’ll ride my energy absorbing bike and pass it to my grandchildren

  2. Geoff Miell says

    The evidence I see indicates the Grattan Institute’s report “Towards net zero: Practical policies to reduce transport emissions” begins with a false premise (on page 7), which states:

    “Achieving net-zero emissions by about 2050 is necessary to have a
    decent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.”

    Unfortunately, the overwhelming scientific evidence I see is, regardless of any GHG emissions trajectory humanity chooses to take from now on, best modelling estimates indicate the +1.5 °C global mean temperature threshold is likely to be crossed sometime between years 2026 and 2029 inclusive – meaning, +1.5 °C is inevitable and likely before 2030. The compelling evidence I see suggests to me anyone who says we/humanity can still keep below +1.5 °C warming is IMO either profoundly ignorant, or lying. +2 °C warming is now becoming very difficult to avoid, and would be extremely dangerous.
    See Table 1 in:

    NOAA says: “In terms of CO2 equivalents, the atmosphere in 2020 contained 504 ppm, of which 412 is CO2 alone. The rest comes from other gases.”

    The paleo-historical evidentiary record indicates the so-called Mid-Pliocene period was 3 to 4 million years ago, where the atmospheric CO2 levels were in the range of 400 to 450 ppm, global mean temperatures were in the range +2 to +3 °C (relative to Holocene Epoch pre-industrial age), and sea levels were in the range 10 to 22 metres higher than now.

    There is no carbon budget remaining for a safe climate for humanity. Three stages are now required for humanity to mitigate the climate emergency:
    1. A deep and rapid decarbonisation of civilisation as soon as possible;
    2. ‘Negative emissions’ or atmospheric carbon drawdown at large-scale to get CO2 levels safely back to well below 350 ppm;
    3. Maintain arctic summer sea ice cover.
    Per Sir David King at:

    I’d suggest the recommendations that the Grattan Institute provides in their latest report are NOT sufficiently ambitious to contribute to achieving the primary goal of maintaining a safe Earth System for humanity, and are therefore not fit-for-purpose.

    The Grattan report also ignores evidence we are probably in a post- ‘peak oil’ supply world.
    See “BPSRoWE-2021”, page 25:
    Figure 5 at:

    “Political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it’s completely useless.” – Professor Schellnhuber.

    • George Kaplan says

      Geoff, what about the Cretaceous Period which is said to have CO2 levels 3x higher than those you’re currently worrying about, and a warmer mean temperature, yet prolific flora and fauna. Is the issue a safe climate, or a static one?

      As for peak oil, in which sense? Given there is significant untapped oil remaining, and that folk have been predicting and been shown wrong as to the timing of peak oil, why should we assume we have hit it now? We are decades past earlier predictions and yet to reach an obvious peak. Worse, given peak oil is predicted to result in serious negative political, economic, and social consequences, do we actually want to hit peak oil?

      Remember ‘peak whale oil’ was perhaps 1850 with petroleum starting to enter the market shortly after that time. If technology supplants demand then peak X will never actually occur.

      • Ronald Brakels says

        I’m surprised you can type with those tiny, little, two fingered, T-Rex arms of yours, George.

      • Geoff Miell says

        George Kaplan,
        The the so-called Cretaceous geological period occurred from about 145 to 66 million years ago. At that time, the world was ice free, and forests extended to the poles.

        Per fossil records, primates did not appear until about 50-55 million years ago, the first human-like ancestors appeared about 7 million years ago, and modern humans (homo sapiens) appeared from about 300,000 years ago.

        Human agriculture and civilisation developed in the relatively climate stable Holocene Epoch (from approximately 11,650 calendar years before present day, after the last glacial period).

        Mid-Miocene-like climate conditions (that occurred 15–17 million years ago, atmospheric CO2 levels were in the range of 300–500 ppm, mean global temperatures were +4.0–5.0°C, and sea levels were +10–60m higher than now), is entirely possible on our current GHG emissions trajectory by 2100, and per the scientific literature, would be incompatible for maintaining adequate crop yields, marine and livestock volumes to sustain the nutrient requirements for the current population of 7.8+ billion people.

        Equatorial and mid-latitude regions will likely become uninhabitable for humans under Mid-Miocene-like climate conditions – too hot/humid.

        Sea level rise will progressively flood and disrupt major coastal cities and infrastructure.

        Per IEA, global ‘conventional’ oil production peaked in 2006, with an all-time maximum of 70 million barrels per day.

        Total global oil production has already peaked – did you look at the link to BPSRoWE-2021 in my earlier comment, George? Apparently not – perhaps too inconvenient for your narrative, eh?
        See also:

        I’d suggest if you cannot extract oil at adequate flow rates useful to support/sustain society then “significant untapped oil remaining” is meaningless.

        Most oil producing countries are now ‘post-peak’. There are very few countries remaining that are still ‘pre-peak’. Ever fewer ‘pre-peak’ countries need to make-up production lacking from ‘post-peak’ countries, to sustain and maintain overall global production.

        Reduced investments in new oil projects, due to COVID-19, don’t help either.

  3. George Kaplan says

    I’m not convinced of the push to electric cars, especially not the tax breaks for rich folks push in the name of promoting them, but stumbled over a curious reference on an NZ news site:

    Those wanting more technical information can follow the link the piece is based on.

    I’m still not convinced of course – the more technology involved in a vehicle the more that can break and be expensive when it needs repairing. On the major plus side going full electric rather than oil (petrol, diesel etc) based systems would grant Australia energy security – assuming the grid and supply is built to handle the change, unlike California.

    • Geoff Miell says

      George Kaplan,
      You state: “On the major plus side going full electric rather than oil (petrol, diesel etc) based systems would grant Australia energy security…”

      Indeed. I’d suggest most people don’t know even half of the story.

      Matt at CrudeOilPeak explored how vulnerable Australia’s liquid fuel security was when BP announced the closure of WA’s Kwinana refinery late last year. A substantial volume of Australia’s liquid fuel supplies come from south-east Asia or pass through this region. I’d suggest that’s not a good situation for Australia if China (or others) decide to disrupt those energy flows.

      And then ExxonMobil announced the closure of Victoria’s Altona refinery earlier this year.

      Queensland’s Lytton and Victoria’s Geelong refineries are all that are remaining operating in Australia.

      Globally, almost all incremental oil supply growth since 2011 was from the United States.

      Almost all US oil supply growth since 2008 was from ‘unconventional’ tight oil.

      But has that paradigm ended for ever?

      “Shale oil’s era of growth appears to be over. The reason is that even as global oil demand and prices rise, the economics of the shale oil business model continue to not work.”

      I certainly won’t be purchasing any new ICE vehicles.

  4. Norbert Reni says

    I have no problem with the taxpayer (low income earners included ) in paying for half of the cost of my purchase of an electric vehicle (as they have done with my PV’s) if I knew that said vehicle could be a) charged in the same time and with the same ease as it takes to fill my petrol tank b) have the same motoring rage as my current vehicle c) was as accurate as my petrol gauge is and d) the number of re-charching stations matched the number of fuel stations we have in existence now.

  5. Ronald Brakels says

    Note: If anyone wants to refer to CO2 as “plant food” in a comment they are going to have to present a damn good argument that the benefits to agriculture of increasing its concentration in the outweigh the costs and not just leave that statement unsupported.

    I am from Toowoomba, so I take this sort of thing seriously.

Speak Your Mind

Please keep the SolarQuotes blog constructive and useful with these 4 rules:

1. Real names are preferred - you should be happy to put your name to your comments.
2. Put down your weapons.
3. Assume positive intention.
4. If you are in the solar industry - try to get to the truth, not the sale.
5. Please stay on topic.

%d bloggers like this: