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Retro fuel

Danny Ruspandini - Impact Labs Australia
Danny R.

Remember leaded petrol?

For me it's a distant but familiar memory... My first car ran on leaded petrol, and I vaguely remember being told by a mechanic that I should switch to unleaded, so I did. I barely noticed when leaded fuel vanished from fuel stations, and just became not available to buy anymore.

It only stopped being available in Australia around 2019, and globally in 2021.

A campaign by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) to remove leaded fuel from global circulation kicked off in 2002, and the last fuel stations to offer leaded fuel were in Algeria, which only stopped offering it last year.

It took 19 years from the start of the campaign, to the last bowser switching off globally.

Leaded fuel is apparently still used in some motor sport, but it's heavily restricted and requires licences to purchase and import from specialised suppliers.

Regular unleaded fuel and diesel will go the same way. It might be trickier because where leaded had a close alternative, unleaded and diesel will be the last of their kind.

For owners of classic cars, there might be specialised suppliers who produce small amounts of petrol which becomes a niche industry, sort of like how vinyl records became collectables.

I imagine that petrol will still be available somewhere even after we've switched to EVs and whatever else we come up with in the next few decades.

Let's just hope petrol doesn't have the retro resurgence that vinyl is having!

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