Australians Choosing Fuel Efficient, Low Emission Cars: NTC Photo:

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Trevor Collett | May, 26 2014 | 2 Comments

Australian motorists are buying more fuel-efficient cars producing lower emissions than ever before, according to the Federal Government’s National Transport Commission (NTC).

The NTC’s claim follows a report compiled by the commission using Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) data, showing a sizeable drop in average carbon dioxide emissions for new passenger cars.

NTC chief Paul Retter said average annual CO2 emissions for new passenger and light commercial vehicles fell to 192 grams per kilometre travelled last year; the third-highest drop since records began in 2002.

“Whether Australians are trying to cut their fuel bills or are trying to help reduce their carbon emissions, more and more families are choosing fuel-efficient vehicles,” Mr Retter said.

“Cars and light commercial vehicles are responsible for 10 percent of Australia’s carbon emissions. However, Australian car buyers are helping to reduce that impact with the average emissions per kilometre falling for five years in a row.”

Mr Retter said that while the continuing year-on-year decline in emissions was encouraging, a more dramatic improvement could be seen if all new-car buyers opted for the most efficient models.

“If every Australian who bought a car last year chose the most efficient vehicle on offer the average vehicle emissions wouldn’t have fallen just 3.4 percent, it would have fallen ten times that amount,” Mr Retter said.

“Consumer preferences, manufacturers producing greener vehicles and government regulation are all factors that can reduce carbon emissions from our vehicles.”

Nissan Leaf EV
Nissan Leaf EV

‘Government regulation’ is perhaps an area that could see changes in the future. Australia faces increasing pressure to follow other countries by offering price, tax and registration concessions for those who choose low-emission vehicles.

Such government incentives exist in Norway, for example, with sales of the all-electric Nissan Leaf topping the charts in October last year, making it the first EV to do so.

The NTC’s report says Australia’s average emissions are higher than Europe and the UK, blaming local preferences for heavy cars (such as SUVs) with large engines and automatic transmissions, along with a lower proportion of efficient diesel-powered cars.

On transmission-choice alone, Australians opted for automatics in 83 percent of their new cars during 2012 compared to just 25 percent of those in the UK.

The UK’s average CO2 emissions from passenger cars are 30 percent lower than Australia’s.

Holden Volt Range-Extended Plug-In Hybrid
Holden Volt Range-Extended Plug-In Hybrid

The report also found that private buyers chose vehicles with the lowest emissions (186 g/km), followed by business buyers (198 g/km) and government (210 g/km).

Interestingly, the 210 g/km government figure matches the average emissions for Australian-made cars, reflecting policies from several state and federal government departments to purchase Australian-made cars for their fleets.

Green’ cars - or cars with CO2 emissions below 120 g/km - accounted for 2.2 percent of sales last year, up from 1.2 percent in 2012 and 0.8 percent in 2011.

Of all the new vehicles sold in Australia, 15 carmakers share in 92 percent of them - with Suzuki and BMW having the equal-lowest average emissions (158 g/km) in the top-15 while Jeep had the highest (226 g/km).

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2014 Suzuki Swift
2014 Suzuki Swift


Note: Some 2014 models have surpassed those listed above; for example, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

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