The petrol and diesel car could soon be extinct in Australia with the country’s most popular vehicles set to fall victim amid the push towards carbon net zero.
The two top-selling cars in the country are both utes – the Toyota Hilux at number one for the sixth-consecutive year, and the Ford Ranger at number two – neither of which have even hybrid or electric versions available.
Skyrocketing petrol prices has sparked the debate over electric cars and whether Australia should be doing more to introduce the infrastructure needed to support electric and hybrid vehicle uptake.
The world’s push towards being carbon neutral by 2050 has seen policymakers, research institutes and even insurance companies calling for new petrol and diesel vehicles to be banned before 2035 could see the end of the vehicles altogether.
‘The enemy is carbon, not the internal combustion engine,’ Toyota President Akio Toyoda said.
‘We need different solutions. This is the way to tackle climate neutrality.’
The NRMA has called for sales of new diesel and petrol-fuelled cars to end by 2030.
‘If anything, our targets here need to be a bit more aggressive than what we’re seeing in other markets,’ NRMA CEO Rohan Lund told Four Corners.
‘I would expect to start seeing targets that are between 2025, 2030 for banning [the sale of new] petrol-driven cars in this country.
‘We don’t manufacture cars here, we’re recipients of the cars coming from Europe and from Asia. I think in many ways we won’t have a choice in this country.’
Australia’s most popular car, the ute, is facing extinction under its current format as the world moves towards carbon net zero
Both Australia’s major political parties have outlined plans to prioritise hybrid, hydrogen, electric and bio-fuelled cars in the future, but the Liberals have repeatedly signalled the importance of current fuel and diesel cars.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his government would fund 50,000 charging stations in Australian homes if voted back in and $178million for charging stations around the country.
Anthony Albanese’s Labor has promised to exempt electric vehicles priced under $79,659 from the import tariff (a 5 per cent tax on some imported EVs) and the fringe benefits tax (a 47 per cent take on EVs provided through employment for private use).
It’s estimated that it will save EV buyers $2,000 before they drive the car away from the shop, while employers could save as much as $9,000 per year.
Labor has pledged $250million in promoting the electric vehicle market, with the legislation to come into play in July this year should they win at the election.
Meanwhile, the Greens plan for all new vehicle sales by 2030 to be electric and invest $1.2 billion in manufacturing electric vehicles and their components in Australia if they hold the balance of power this election.
The UK and France have outlined their pathway to stopping the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, while Germany and China have hinted at similar plans.
Germany introduced a subsidy for new electric vehicles in 2016 worth $5,916, while the UK offers a $4,388 subsidy for EVs.
New Zealand, one of the world’s rising contributors to carbon emissions, are countering that by moving to ban imports of petrol and diesel cars by 2032.
The nation’s Climate Commission recommended electric cars make up half of its registration by 2029, and have helped achieve that goal by offering subsidies of $7,817 for new EVs and $3,127 for used cars.
Toyota said it couldn’t confirm its plans surrounding the HiLux but underlined its ambitions to electrify its range – while competitors Ford hint at imminent introduction of e-utes
Australia’s best selling cars in 2021
Toyota HiLux – 52,801
Ford Ranger – 50,279
Toyota RAV4 – 35,751
Toyota Corolla – 28,768
Hyundai i30 – 25,575
Isuzu D-Max – 25,117
Mazda CX-5 – 24,968
Toyota Prado – 21,299
Mitsubishi Triton – 19,232
MG ZS – 18,423
Four of the country’s top 10 selling cars were utes last year, with 253,254 sales making up 24.1 per cent of the total market.
Seven utes broke their previous record for sales in 2021, including the top-selling HiLux, which broke 52,000 new purchases.
It was Australia’s top-selling car for the sixth-straight year, showing its popularity among tradies, hobbyists and even families.
However, hybrid or electric utes are still not available for sale in Australia, sparking concerns that popular models like the HiLux and Ranger will no longer be on sale due if new rules are put in place to ban the sale of hybrid or electric vehicles.
In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, Toyota said it couldn’t confirm its plans surrounding the model but underlined its ambitions to electrify its range.
‘We are committed to electrification options for all vehicles now or into the future,’ a spokesperson said.
‘We have always said we expect commercial vehicles to take a little longer to ensure they meet local customer requirements, including for towing trailers, carrying loads and being required to withstand the tough conditions experienced in many parts of Australia.
‘We have no announcements to make today, but HiLux will most certainly be considered as part of Toyota’s future electrification plans.’
The Ford Ranger same chassis as the Volkswagen Amarok, which already has a plug-in hybrid version – and plans are underway to introduce full-electric versions of both cars ‘this lifecycle’
We are committed to electrification options for all vehicles now or into the future. We have always said we expect commercial vehicles to take a little longer to ensure they meet local customer requirements, including for towing trailers, carrying loads and being required to withstand the tough conditions experienced in many parts of Australia. We have no announcements to make today, but HiLux will most certainly be considered as part of Toyota’s future electrification plans – Toyota
The Ford Ranger was the country’s second most popular new car, narrowly losing out to the HiLux.
Hybrid versions of the jointly-developed Ranger and it’s Everest SUV– engineered in Australia but manufactured in Thailand – are expected to be in overseas showrooms by 2024 in countries that have mandated strict emissions targets.
Daily Mail Australia understands hybrid versions of the new Ranger ute and Everest 4WD will eventually be a part of the local line-up.
It is unclear if the Ford Ranger Hybrid and the Ford Everest Hybrid will be petrol-electric or diesel-electric.
Ford warned Australian consumers that the country is far behind others in terms of providing public charging stations and the capabilities to charge vehicles at home.
‘Infrastructure would have to improve in places like South Africa and Australia,’ Ford’s Global CEO Jim Farley told the Decoder podcast.
‘I think it will take some time for those markets to move to full-electric.’
The Volkswagen Amarok plugin hybrid is set to be launched in Europe this year.
‘Right now, we’re not satisfied with the electric range of the plug-in hybrid. I’d never say never, but we’re looking more towards a full electric version,’ Volkswagen’s Commercial Vehicle board memeber Lars Krause told Drive.
‘We think it is possible. Obviously, we’d need to modify certain elements. But, yes, we are seriously considering an electric variant.’
Seven utes broke their previous record for sales in 2021, including the top-selling HiLux which broke 52,000 new purchases
The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel powertrain in the Australian D-MAX is engineered to meet local customer and market requirements. At the moment we are not in a position to comment on future or alternative powertrain developments. However, we can say we are constantly monitoring the Australian market to ensure that any product updates to the D-MAX range in the future, meet the Australian market’s requirements – before committing to any changes in the local Australian product – ISUZU
Isuzu’s ute range shot up 61.6 per cent last year, the D-Max, which is cheaper than both the Ranger and HiLux.
The company told Daily Mail Australia said they couldn’t comment on future plans to develop electric versions of their utes.
‘The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel powertrain in the Australian D-MAX is engineered to meet local customer and market requirements. At the moment we are not in a position to comment on future or alternative powertrain developments,’ a spokesperson said.
‘However, we can say we are constantly monitoring the Australian market to ensure that any product updates to the D-MAX range in the future, meet the Australian market’s requirements – before committing to any changes in the local Australian product.’
Meanwhile, the Tesla Cybertruck electric ute has been pulled from sale in Australia.
‘The Tesla Cybertruck can no longer be reserved in Australia, after Tesla shut off reservations for the Cybertruck for markets outside North America,’ The Driven reports.
The cancellation of Cybertruck sales in Australia comes amid speculation the ute may be deemed too big for Australia by authorities.
However Tesla boss Elon Musk has also previously said the company might produce for global markets such as Australia.
SUVs dominated Australian dealerships with 50.6 per cent of all new cars sold, most fuelled by petrol and diesel.
Comparatively, the best-selling electric car in Australia last year was the Tesla Model 3 with 12,094 models sold, while the second place MG ZS EV saw just 1,388 sales.
In total, the country saw 20,665 EV sales in 2021, a significant increase of nearly 200 per cent from 2020 (not including Tesla) which saw barely 6,900 sales. It still only amounts for two per cent of the market.
In contrast, 54 per cent of vehicles in Norway are electric after its progressive government introduced taxes on petrol and diesel cars.
Transport amounts for about 20 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions, which has been rising steadily over the past few decades. More than half of those emissions come from cars.
Toyota said it plans on electrifying its entire range over the next decade as it looks to cater to the demands of international markets
A lot of manufacturers are planning electric utes, with Ford and Volkswagen leading the charge. There is also a lot of work going on in the hydrogen fuel cell area with manufacturers developing low-emission utes. These include Hyundai, Kia, Rivian, General Motors, Tesla, Nissan, Great Wall and Toyota – RACQ
Several major manufacturers have confirmed overhauls to their processes – Volvo will stop designing all combustion engine-only cars in 2022 while Volkswagen will build electric versions of its 300-car catalogue.
Australia has committed to reducing green house gas emissions by 26 per cent of its levels in 2005 before 2030 under the Paris Agreement.
With 4X4 petrol and diesel utes owning the highest market share of new cars sold, 18.1 per cent, major car companies are going to need to address the demand from consumers and legislation from lawmakers sooner rather than later.
Hybrid (up 20 per cent), EV minus Tesla (up 191.1 per cent) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (up 99.4 per cent) all beat out the traditional petrol and diesel vehicles, a sign Australians are moving away from cars with harmful emissions.