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Australian consumers have bought a record number of fuel-efficient, low-emissions cars leading to the biggest year-on-year growth in the percentage of new cars sold since the NTC began analysing the figures in 2004.

Biggest jump in fuel-efficient car sales since records began

2 April 2016
Australian consumers have bought a record number of fuel-efficient, low-emissions cars leading to the biggest year-on-year growth in the percentage of new cars sold since the NTC began keeping records.
The findings were made in a report into carbon dioxide emissions of new cars sold in 2015 released by the NTC today.
Chief Executive of the NTC Paul Retter said 4.7 per cent of the new cars sold in 2015 were classified as low-emissions vehicles (emitted less than 120 grams of carbon dioxide for every kilometre travelled) compared to 2.8 per cent in 2014.
“More and more Australians are choosing fuel-efficient and low-emissions new cars,” Mr Retter said.
Number of low-emissions cars sold in Australia
Percentage of total cars sold in Australia
0.6 %
0.7 %
“Today’s consumers are spoilt for choice. In 2015 there were 72 different types of fuel-efficient cars on the market up from just 59 in 2014. Back in 2008 there were just seven fuel-efficient cars available.”
The top selling fuel-efficient models for 2015 are:
Sales in 2015
Toyota  Prius (includes prius and prius c models)
Audi A3 (includes A3 and A3 sportback models)
Mazda  2
Mini Cooper
Lexus CT200H
Mitsubishi OUTLANDER (SUV)
A further analysis of the data by the NTC found the changing consumer preference for fuel-efficient and low-emissions vehicles led to Australia’s national average carbon emissions intensity falling 27 per cent in 2015 compared to 2002.
“More fuel-efficient cars emit less carbon,” Mr Retter said.
Mr Retter said while Australian consumers were increasingly choosing lower-emissions cars, the overwhelming majority still preferred other types of vehicles. For example, if all Australians who bought a new vehicle in 2015 bought one with best in class emissions, the national average carbon emissions intensity would have dropped by 55 per cent compared to 2014.
Despite the improvements, Australian consumers buy passenger vehicles with carbon emissions intensity an average of 43 percent higher than their European counterparts, according to data from the European Environmental Agency used in the report.
“There are a number of reasons for this, including that Australians generally prefer heavier vehicles with bigger, more powerful engines, and our fuel prices are lower. Europeans also have more incentives to purchase low-emissions vehicles,” Mr Retter said.
The Carbon Emissions Intensity for New Australian Light Vehicles 2015 report uses data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries to report on the carbon emissions intensity of passenger and light commercial vehicles sold in Australia during 2015.
Data in the report shows that the national average of carbon emissions intensity from new cars and light commercial vehicles bought during 2015 has dropped by 1.9 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
Carbon emissions intensity is a measure of vehicle efficiency or intensity 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.
The report also found
  • About 90 per cent of all new vehicle sales in 2015 were from 15 makes. Of these, Audi and BMW has the lowest corporate average emissions intensity (149 g/km) and Jeep had the highest (223 g/km).
  • Of the top 15 makers in Australia, Nissan improved the most compared to 2014 figures, while Jeep recorded the smallest improvement in carbon emissions intensity.
  • Australian manufacturers Holden, Ford and Toyota reduced their average emissions by 1.1 percent between 2014 and 2015.
  • Private buyers purchased vehicles with the lowest average emissions intensity (an average of 178 g/km), followed by business buyers (190 g/km) and government buyers (204 g/km).
The NTC would like to thank the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries for the data used in this report.
Mr Retter said the NTC’s analysis of the data would help to inform the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions which is currently accepting submissions on ways to reduce the health and environmental impacts from motor vehicle emissions.
Last Updated: 18/11/2016