The public on Tuesday was invited by the government to make suggestions on a cut-off date on the importation of cars and vans powered by the traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) – two years after a commission was set up to propose a date for that purpose.

The government said the commission has held consultations with stakeholders within the government, the automotive industry and users.

Two studies were commissioned to provide an analysis of potential cut-off dates and their impacts. A Green Paper issued on Tuesday, however, 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 ICEs and says that in 2018 emissions were 86% higher than in 1990.

A cut-off date for the importation of Internal Combustion Engines  - and their replacement with plug-in or hybrid vehicles – would bring up several related issues including the need for a charging points network - with only 102 charging pillars currently available.

The Green Paper 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.

Opening the discussion to public consultation runs counter to previous pledges concerning an eventual ban. In November 2019, then-Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said a cut-off date for the importation of combustion vehicles would be announced in 2020. That promise was repeated by then-Energy Minister Michael Farrugia eight months later. 

Several other countries have already announced cutoff dates, with Norway set to be the first to ban sales of new ICE vehicles, as of 2025. 

Should some localities ban ICE vehicles?

The Green Paper also asked whether there should be areas that ban the use of internal combustion vehicles and whether the creation of a low emissions zone would encourage people to switch to a zero-emission vehicle.

The point is also made that most mechanics are familiar with ICE technology but less so with ZLEV (electric car) technology. As newer ZLEV models are introduced more knowledgeable technical people would be required. All workers involved in the automotive industry would need to upgrade their skills. Over a period of time, this would require the reskilling and upskilling of the current workforce.  

“We want to make sure that Malta has the required knowledge and skills so that current workers will continue to work in this field whilst new workers are equipped with the required know-how to be able to carry out the best work possible. At the same time, self-employed workers in this sector need to be protected and their job needs to be valued so as to ensure that the sector remains competitive,” the Green Paper says.

Changeover incentives

The Green Paper observes that substantial financing will be needed for investment in the infrastructure and the maintenance and operation of EV charging networks, fleet renewal and maintenance, public awareness and communication campaigns.

With some incentives already in place to encourage motorists to opt for electric vehicles, it asks what kind of measures can help drivers to opt for electric vehicles and, inversely, what measures should be introduced to discourage the use of ICE vehicles.

Setting a cut-off date

Three suggestions are made for a possible cut-off date to stop the importation of ICEs – before 2025, between 2025 and 2030 and between 2030 and 2035.

“An early cut-off date would contribute towards a more rapid reduction of air pollutants and contribute towards the decarbonisation of the transport sector. However, the cut-off date should strike a balance between realising these benefits and allowing sufficient time for future developments necessary to overcome existing barriers,” the Green Paper says.

“It should also provide the necessary lead time for the various affected sectors to adjust their operation and for investors to take the opportunities presented by new technologies.”

The Green Paper can be seen in full by clicking the pdf below. 

The consultation is open until July 13. Comments and suggestions can be made via email to:

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.