Executive Summary

This information paper provides detailed data on the carbon dioxide emissions performance of new passenger and light commercial vehicles sold in Australia in 2013. The information establishes a new benchmark and compares this with the previous year’s new vehicle emissions data. The paper also includes a detailed carbon dioxide emissions breakdown by vehicle make, vehicle segment and buyer type. This report focuses on vehicle emissions performance, which is measured in terms of grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (g/km). This is a measure of vehicle efficiency rather than a measure of actual vehicle emissions, which depends on many factors such as distance travelled, the nature of the driving and road and traffic conditions. Fleet-wide vehicle emissions depend on many factors including consumer preference (such as, vehicle type, engine size and power, fuel type, and transmission type) among other things. Consumer preferences can also be influenced by government policies and regulations, industry influence and fuel prices. These consumer preferences and influences are explored further in the form of a case study analysing the key differences between Australia and the United Kingdom.

Key Findings

  •  In 2013 the national average carbon emissions from new passenger and light commercial vehicles was 192 g/km. This is a 3.4 per cent reduction from 2012 and is the third largest annual reduction since records started in 2002.
  • Consumer preferences are an important factor affecting the national average of carbon emission for new vehicles. If all Australians who purchased new vehicles in 2013 had purchased vehicles with best-in-class emissions, the national average would be 34 per cent lower (126 g/km) than the actual national average that was achieved in 2013.
  • Fifteen manufacturers sold 92 per cent of the new vehicles in Australia. Of these manufacturers, Suzuki and BMW had the equal lowest average corporate emissions (158 g/km) and Jeep had the highest average corporate emissions (226 g/km).
  • The average emissions from Australian-made vehicles was 210 g/km. This was the same figure as achieved in 2012.
  • New vehicles bought by private buyers had the lowest average emissions (186 g/km), followed by business buyers (198 g/km) and then government buyers (210 g/km).
  • Of total car sales in Australia 2.2 per cent were ‘green’ cars (compared with 1.2 per cent in 2012 and 0.8 per cent in 2011). A ‘green’ car is defined as a vehicle that does not exceed 120 g/km.
  • In 2012 Australia’s national average carbon emissions from new passenger vehicles was 44 per cent higher than in the European Union (190 g/km compared with 132 g/km).
  • There are many reasons why Australian light vehicle emissions are higher than in Europe and the United Kingdom. Some of the reasons include Australian consumer preferences for: heavier vehicles with larger and more powerful engines; a lower proportion of diesel powered engines; and automatic transmission.
  • Consumer preferences are influenced by government policies and regulations, availability of a range of low carbon dioxide emitting vehicles, and fuel prices. Compared with the United Kingdom, in 2013 Australia had:
    • fewer regulations and policies directed towards lowering the average carbon dioxide emissions
    • fewer low carbon dioxide emitting vehicles available for purchase
    • lower fuel costs, providing a weaker financial incentive to buy more fuel-efficient and loweremitting vehicles.