Roads / Environment / Light vehicle emissions

The NTC began reporting on the carbon dioxide emissions of new cars and light commercial vehicles in 2009, to provide a transparent benchmark for how Australia’s new car emissions performance is tracking.

Light vehicle emissions

The NTC began reports on the carbon dioxide emissions intensity of new cars and light commercial vehicle sales to provide a transparent benchmark for how Australia’s new car emission performance is tracking.

Key findings from our latest report:

  • In 2016 the national average carbon dioxide emissions intensity from new passenger and light commercial vehicles was 182 g/km. This is a 1.1 per cent reduction from 2015.
  • Consumer preferences are an important factor affecting the national average of carbon dioxide emissions intensity for new vehicles. If all Australians who purchased new vehicles in 2016 had purchased vehicles with best-in-class emissions, the national average carbon dioxide emissions intensity would have been reduced to 75 g/km, a 59 per cent reduction.
  • About 90 per cent of all new vehicle sales in 2016 were from 15 makes. Of these 15 makes, Audi had the lowest corporate average emissions intensity (144 g/km), and Holden had the highest (222 g/km).
  • The average emissions intensity for all Australian-made vehicles was 213 g/km in 2016. This is a 2.3 per cent increase when compared with 2015.
  • Private buyers purchased vehicles with the lowest average emissions intensity (176 g/km), followed by business buyers (187 g/km) and government buyers (201 g/km).
  • There were 51 ‘green’ car models available in Australia in 2016 (compared with 72 in 2015), which represented 2.5 per cent of total sales (compared with 4.7 per cent in 2015). A ‘green’ car is defined as a vehicle that does not exceed 120 g/km.
  • The average emission intensity for new passenger vehicles in European countries was 120 g/km in 2015. In the same year, Australia’s average emissions intensity for passenger vehicles was 175 g/km, 46 per cent higher.
  • There are many reasons why Australian light vehicle emissions intensity are higher than in Europe. Some of the reasons include:
    • Australian consumer preferences for heavier vehicles with larger and more powerful engines. For example, the five best-selling vehicles in the UK in 2016 were all small cars. In Australia, the Toyota Hilux was the best-selling model in 2016 with the Ford Ranger as the fourth best-selling vehicle (FCAI 2017a)
    • a lower proportion of diesel-powered engines
    • fewer government incentives for lower emissions vehicles
    • relatively lower fuel prices.

This information is based on data provided by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and published annually.

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Last Updated: 6/6/2017