Transport minister Humza Yousaf made the admission at an energy conference in Glasgow where he said the Scottish Government does not have the power to enforce a ban on the sale of fully diesel and petrol powered cars.
It comes months after ministers set the target to ‘phase out the need’ for new version of such cars and set Scotland on course to become be only the fifth country in the world to do so.
But now Yousaf has admitted this was not possible.
He said: “We don’t have the legislative powers to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars.”
But he added: “It is always better to have ambitious targets even if they are not achievable.”
The minister was speaking at the All Energy conference in Glasgow, which focuses on sustainable renewable energy.
He said Scotland was leading the way in providing an infrastructure for alternatively fuelled cars.
He said: “There are now 800 charging points and 175 rapid charging points in Scotland.
“This is better than anywhere else in the UK. We are continuing to increase the network and there is less than three miles now between charging points in Scotland.”
Westminster announced last July they would ban sales of the cars in the UK by 2040 following a similar announcement in France.
Holyrood decided to raise the bar and said the ban in Scotland would come into force eight years earlier.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said:
““More people than ever before are discovering the many benefits of electric and alternatively fuelled vehicles. It is encouraging to see Scotland leading the way, with sales of alternative fuelled vehicles rising faster than the rest of the UK. The Scottish Government already funds a number of initiatives, including an interest free loan, delivered through the Energy Saving Trust, to help towards the purchase of electric vehicles.
“Drivers of EVs in Scotland benefit from one of the most comprehensive charge point networks in Europe through ChargePlace Scotland. There are currently more than 800 publicly available charge points on the ChargePlace Scotland network, including over 175 rapid charge points, and the average distance from any given location to the nearest public charge point is just 2.78 miles in Scotland – the lowest in Great Britain where the average is 4.09 miles.
“The Programme for Government sets a bold new vision on ultra-low emission vehicles and we are well-positioned to continue to work with industry, to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032, by continuing to provide the infrastructure, and support, to allow ultra-low emission vehicles to flourish.”