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by Tim Beissmann

Australia’s new vehicle fleet is ‘greener’ than ever before but our CO2 emissions average remains far above that of the UK and other European countries.

The average CO2 emissions rating of all new passenger and light-commercial vehicles sold in Australia in 2013 improved 3.4 per cent to 192 grams per kilometre.

The year-on-year improvement was the third highest since records started in 2002, and contributes to a 23.2 per cent reduction in the fleet’s CO2 emissions average over the past decade.

The data – complied by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries for the National Transport Commission’s Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2013 information paper – shows Australians bought more ‘green’ vehicles (those with a CO2 rating of 120g/km and below) than ever before last year. Green vehicles made up 2.2 per cent of the total market last year, almost double 2012’s figure of 1.2 per cent.

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Despite the improvements, the report highlights the vast gap between Australia’s CO2 emissions average and those of European Union nations.

In 2012, the CO2 emissions average of Australia’s passenger car fleet was 190g/km – 58g/km or 43.9 per cent higher than the EU average. In fuel consumption terms, Australia’s average translates to approximately 8.0 litres per 100km for petrol-powered vehicles and 7.2L/100km for diesel models, compared with 5.5L/100km (petrol) and 5.0L/100km (diesel) for EU vehicles.

Denmark had the greenest new passenger vehicle fleet (117g/km), while even the worst of the EU nations, Estonia (155g/km) was 18.4 per cent greener than Australia.

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Comparing Australia with the United Kingdom, the report finds that Australia has fewer government and other price-related incentives to encourage the increased adoption of low-emissions vehicles, a more limited range of low-emitting model variants, and significantly lower petrol and diesel prices.

It shows that Australian motorists also have a greater preference for SUVs and light-commercial vehicles, vehicles with larger engines, petrol-powered vehicles, and vehicles with automatic transmissions – factors all linked with higher CO2 emissions.

Motorists in the UK have access to significantly more low-emissions vehicles than Australians. Just 6.8 per cent of vehicles available in Australia have a CO2 emissions average of 130g/km or below, compared with 39.8 per cent of vehicles in the UK.

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Of Australia’s 15 top-selling manufacturers, BMW and Suzuki had the equal-lowest corporate average emissions in 2013, measuring 158g/km, putting them ahead of Volkswagen (162g/km) and Mercedes-Benz (165g/km).

Jeep had the highest average of the top 15 brands, rated at 226g/km, with Holden (212g/km) and Nissan (209g/km) joining it in the bottom three.

Despite claiming top spot, Suzuki’s corporate average emissions actually increased 0.5 per cent last year. Mitsubishi and Volkswagen showed the biggest improvements, cutting their averages by 7.7 per cent.

The average for Australian-made cars was 210g/km, which was unchanged from 2012.

Ford’s locally made models were the worst offenders, averaging 237g/km, and showed the smallest improvement (0.5 per cent). Toyota remained the cleanest of the trio at 179g/km (Holden was 213g/km), though Holden showed the biggest improvement, down 1.7 per cent compared with Toyota’s 1.2 per cent improvement.




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