Ban on petrol and diesel car imports likely between 2030 and 2034

Government has unveiled a public consultation to set the cut-off date for the conversion to electric cars but data suggests 2030 as the earliest possible date


Government is asking for feedback to set a date for the ban on petrol and diesel car imports but data suggests the target has already been set.

Malta’s Low Carbon Development Strategy which was unveiled yesterday clearly suggests that the ban on the imports of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars will come in place between 2030 and 2034.

However, a Green Paper issued in parallel to the document is asking for public feedback to determine the date.

The draft document outlining the strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 states that although the cut-off date has not been determined yet, studies carried out so far indicate a date of 2030, or beyond.

The document outlines three scenarios for the cut-off date: an optimistic scenario where the date is set to 2030, a pessimistic scenario where the date is set to 2034 and a “central scenario” somewhere between the two dates.

Since data suggests cars in Malta have a long lifetime compared to those in other EU countries, the strategy document envisages a time lag between putting the policy in place and changes in emission levels.

“Even if the cut-off date is set at 2030, the full impact of this policy is likely to be seen in later years,” the document reads.

The ban is only on car imports and does not impact cars that are already on the road.

Moreover, allowance is also made for different variants, such as the application of a different cut-off date for specific types of vehicles such as company cars, which typically have a shorter lifespan.

Charging infrastructure expansion is directly related to the development of electro mobility and the uptake of electric vehicles.

Amongst the greatest concerns is lack of accessibility of charging points and lack of charging infrastructure.

Currently in Malta, 102 charging points are available to the general public. But according to the strategy 6,500 charging points will have to be introduced by 2030 to support the uptake of EVs on a national scale.

A Green Paper issued together with the low carbon strategy on Tuesday does not feature the studies and only suggests cut off dates ranging from as early as 2025 to 2035.

The Green Paper points to the high emissions caused by internal combustion engines and says that in 2018 emissions were 86% higher than in 1990.

The Green Paper also asks how access to and payment for charging from public pillars can be made easier and what measures can be introduced to make vehicle charging at home more effective.

It also asks how long people are willing to walk to arrive at the nearest charging point.

The announcement of a cut-off date for electric cars has been due since 2019 when in the Budget the government promised to introduce a cut off-date for the importation of petrol and diesel driven cars in 2020.

The budget’s declaration that the government was “determined to make Malta one of the first countries in Europe to switch its vehicles to electric cars” suggested the adoption of an early date.

So far, different countries have opted for different dates ranging from Norway, which has opted for 2025, Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands, Iceland and Denmark, which have opted for 2030, and the UK and France both of which have opted for 2040.

Free public transport for all which is expected to contribute to a shift from private cars to public transport is also expected to be introduced between 2026 and 2030, whilst the electrification of the same fleet is expected to take place before 2030.

By 2030 Malta aspires to have more than 65,000 electric vehicles including hybrid ones.

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