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“No coincidence” GM left Australia before pledging to abolish combustion engines: EV Council


The Australian EV council said General Motors’ recent pledge to abolish petrol and diesel engines by 2040 is proof Australia is bogged down by stubborn leadership on electrification.

Australian politicians have been accused of putting Australia behind global peers on progress towards electrification of the motor vehicle fleet – and even forcing General Motors (GM) to depart the Australian market in order to advance its global push for carbon neutrality.

GM unveiled an ambitious plan this week to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, meaning that both their factories and cars would only use renewable energy, while petrol and diesel powertrains will be abolished from the lineups of GM brands that include Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari
Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari has slammed Australia’s leadership for leaving us behind in the take-up of electric cars

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said GM’s 2040 carbon neutrality target, that beats Ford to the punch by ten years, was proof Australia was being let down by its leaders.

“It’s no coincidence that GM decided to pull out of Australia shortly before making this announcement,” Mr Jafari said.

Australia currently has no emissions reductions targets for new motor vehicles, and even our fuel quality has been heavily criticised by the likes of Volkswagen for being near third-world standards.

General Motors closed Holden in 2020 but Mr Jafari said politicians have themselves to blame

There has also been a lack of consistent support for electric vehicle uptake, with no federal government subsidies in place to encourage people to buy EVs. The South Australian and Victorian state governments even proposed a tax in recent months on electric vehicle usage in a world-first move that astonished automakers worldwide.

Mr Jafari said these decisions had rubbed-stamped Australia as a low priority nation for electric cars among car manufacturers and left our market behind in the race to take up electric vehicles.

Volkswagen Golf GTE 2021 rear
Australia has been criticised by the likes of Volkswagen for EV taxes and poor fuel quality

“Not only are we one of the only countries not to enforce fuel efficiency standards, we are the only nation proposing brand new punitive taxes on electric vehicles instead of incentives,” he said.

“The unimaginative and cynical approach our politicians have taken to electric vehicles in recent years means Australia is being left behind as the rest of the auto industry zooms ahead.”

General Motors killed off the Holden brand in 2020

GM officially killed off Holden as a brand in Australia in February 2020 in a move that was largely panned by local politicians, however, Mr Jafari said they only had themselves to blame.

“GM’s announcement underscores how fallacious the argument is that we can sit on our hands and just let the electric vehicle revolution happen to us,” he said.

“We need our politicians to wake up now and start investing in stimulating and encouraging the transition to electric vehicles before it’s too late.”