• Aussies buying more diesel, petrol-electric hybrid cars
  • This is despite plan to make motorist buy electric vehicles 

Australians are rebelling against government plans to ban petrol and diesel cars, new vehicle sales figures show.

The Albanese government will start imposing penalties on makers of petrol and diesel cars from next year as part of a plan to reduce vehicle carbon emissions by 59 per cent by 2029.

The Climate Council wants Australia to go further and ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, which would include hybrid vehicles because only 'zero emission' vehicles would be allowed.

But motorists don't seem to be listening with diesel sales climbing and petrol-electric hybrid sales doubling in a year, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries sales figures reveal.

Diesel cars had a 29 per cent market share in March with 31,731 sold - 5.5 per cent higher than March 2023. 

The Ford Ranger, available mainly as a diesel, was Australia's top-selling car with sales up 25.6 per cent compared with a year ago.

Environmentally-conscious motorists are also preferring petrol-electric hybrids over battery-electric cars following a 4.9 per cent decline in petrol car sales.

Hybrid sales more than doubled, surging by 165.6 per cent to 13,935, up from 5,247 a year earlier.

The Toyota RAV4, available as a hybrid, was Australia's second most popular car in March with its monthly sales tally of 5,070 sales marking a 185.2 per cent jump on a year earlier.

Plug-in hybrid sales almost tripled to 1,412 - up 148.2 per cent from 569.

By comparison, battery electric cars sales climbed by a more modest 58.3 per cent to 10,464, up from 6,612.

The Tesla Model Y, Australia's third bestselling car with 4,379 sales in March, was the only EV in the top 10.

But diesels had five places in the top 10 with the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, Isuzu D-Max, Ford Everest and Toyota LandCruiser.

Hybrids had two places, including the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan X-Trail while the plug-in hybrid segment had the Mitsubishi Outlander

BAEconomics managing director Brian Fisher, who does climate change modelling, said a diesel Ford Ranger for under $50,000 was a better choice for tradies than a $92,990 fully-electric Chinese-made LDV eT60.

'You can buy a lot of diesel for $45,000,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'Most tradespeople are going to opt for the safe bet, particularly given the capital cost and the fact you're writing them off over three years.' 


DIESEL:  31,731 sales in March, up 5.5 per cent for 29 per cent share

BATTERY EV:  10,464 sales in March, up 58.3 per cent for 9.5 per cent share

HYBRID:  13,935 sales in March, up 165.6 per cent for 12.7 per cent share

PLUG-IN HYBRID: 1,412 sales in March, up 148.2 per cent for 1.3 per cent share

PETROL: 47,761 sales in March, down 4.9 per cent for a 43.6 per cent share

HEAVY COMMERCIAL: 4,344 sales in March, down 4.1 per cent for 4 per cent share

TOTAL: 109,647 sales in March, up 12.7 per cent for a 100 per cent share

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data for March 2024


For double the money, the LDV eT60 also only tows a tonne, instead of 3.5 tonnes like a diesel Ford Ranger or Toyota HiLux.

'A lot of these utes are used for business and do a lot of work - if you're that sort of distance,' Dr Fisher said.

'Right now, it seems to me, rationally, there's not too much incentive for people to be running around trying to experiment with electric utes unless they're early adopters.

'People are going to be shy about those sorts of things because there aren't too many around. Are you going to risk it?'

Dr Fisher said hybrid cars were also a more compelling choice for environmentally-conscious motorists who had range and charging anxiety about EVs.

'You're reducing your fuel use and you're mitigating the charging risk,' he said. 

'Already, you're seeing stories about people getting caught, not being able to charge their vehicle.'

Despite issues with EV charging, the Climate Council argued Australia should ban petrol and diesel cars by 2035 because the European Union was already doing so.

'Based on the pace of vehicle turnover, this date needs to be set no later than 2035 to see Australia have a zero emissions fleet by 2050,' it said.

'The European Union, United Kingdom, Canada and some US states are in the process of implementing this approach, with 2035 emerging as a common end date for petrol and diesel vehicles across these communities.'

Under the Climate Council plan, even petrol-electric hybrid cars would be banned because they still emit carbon emissions.

'Progress towards ending new petrol and diesel car sales could start with putting strong caps on vehicle pollution,' it said.

'These caps could then be progressively lowered until 100 per cent of new vehicles sold are required to be zero emissions.'

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen's National Vehicle Efficiency Standard (NVES), announced in February, seeks to impose penalties on car makers that relied too heavily on selling petrol and diesel cars, including those with a hybrid engine.

The government's plan, due to come into effect on January 1, 2025, aims to cut average passenger vehicle carbon emissions to 58 grams of carbon per kilometre by 2029.

This would mark a 59 per cent reduction from the 2025 target of 141 grams per kilometre as part of Labor's plan to reduce carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030.

But the rules would be less stringent for light commercial vehicles, covering utes and four wheel drives, with a 47.6 per cent reduction, from 210 grams of CO2 per kilometre in 2025 to 110g/km by 2029. 

No single petrol, diesel or hybrid car on sale now would meet those NVES goals, with car manufacturers fined $100 for every gram, on average, their new fleet went above a specified threshold.

This would see costs passed on to consumers but it would reward EV makers who could sell carbon credits to their rivals, with the scheme expected to reduce the price of a Tesla Model Y by $15,390.

But a diesel-powered Toyota LandCruiser would be $13,250 more expensive with the 70 Series ute emitting 281 grams of CO2 per kilometre, FCAI calculations showed.


1. FORD RANGER: 5,661 sales, up 25.6 per cent with a year ago

2. TOYOTA RAV4: 5,070 sales, up 185.2 per cent on a year ago

3. TESLA MODEL Y: 4,379 sales, up 126 per cent on a year ago

4. TOYOTA HILUX: 3,995 sales, down 12.8 per cent on a year ago

5. MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER: 2,764 sales, up 27.4 per cent on a year ago

6. ISUZU D-MAX: 2,465 sales, down 11.6 per cent on a year ago

7. FORD EVEREST: 2,264 sales, up 129.8 per cent on a year ago

8. NISSAN X-TRAIL: 2,161 sales, up 124.4 per cent on a year ago

9. TOYOTA LANDCRUISER: 2,159 sales, up 28.3 per cent on a year ago

10. MAZDA CX-5: 2,134 sales, up 11.3 per cent on a year ago

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries sales data for March 2024

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2024-04-12T10:35:06Z dg43tfdfdgfd