Petrol pumps to be popular into the 2030s

Demand for petrol stations will remain high into the 2030s in Australia – years after some countries have banned the sale of fossil fuel vehicles, an energy giant has predicted.

But Ampol also expects electric car sales will rise significantly in the country from 2025 and the technology will become the dominant form of transport by 2050.

One industry expert said the forecasts, from Ampol’s 2023 Climate Report, underlined the need for ambitious transport policies to help Australia catch up to the rest of the world, while another called the predictions “self-serving”.

The Ampol report, released on Monday, looked at the progress of its future energy policies between May 2021 and 2023, and featured climate modelling of Australia’s transport sector.

It predicted “demand for traditional fuels will remain robust well into the 2030s” due to the average car ownership periods of 10 years in Australia and 14 years in New Zealand.

Electric car ownership would “gradually increase from 2025” until it became the leading mode of transport in 2050, the report said, and long-haul trucks and aviation would need to use renewable fuels until hydrogen became economically viable.

Despite the modelling, Ampol chief executive Matt Halliday said Australia’s transition to low-emission transport could change course.

“Our key markets are in the early stages of the transition and the pace and shape of the transition is both uncertain and likely to vary significantly in each of the markets we serve,” Mr Halliday said.

“This requires us to take a flexible and pragmatic approach, tailoring the level of spend and areas of focus over time and as markets evolve.”

Ampol has committed to deploying 300 vehicle-charging points in Australia by 2024 and has installed 40 to date.

But Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Joe Rafalowicz said the company’s predictions did not match those from the CSIRO, which found electric cars were likely to make up 60 per cent of all cars in the early 2040s.

“Ampol has produced self-serving modelling which is totally out of touch with reality,” he said.

“The only scenario where petrol cars continue to be the majority of vehicles past the early 2040s is the one where Australia and the world has blown past their Paris (Agreement) commitments and accepted a 2.6-degree warmer world.”

Swinburne University future urban mobility professor Hussein Dia said the report highlighted the need for Australia to introduce a competitive fuel-efficiency standard.

Demand for electric cars was also growing in Australia, he said, and would see more consumers reject traditional cars in coming years.

“Many people want electric vehicles, they want alternative modes of transport, they’re even becoming sceptical about hybrids,” he said.

“The more we see the Teslas and BYDs on our roads and the more people try them, I doubt demand for (internal combustion engine) cars will remain strong.”

Countries to ban sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 include the United Kingdom, Greece, Germany, Iceland and Sweden.

The ACT will end the sale of new fossil fuel cars from 2035.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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