Light vehicle emissions


We report on the carbon dioxide emissions intensity of new cars and light commercial vehicle sales each year to provide a transparent benchmark for how Australia’s new car emission footprint is tracking.

Key findings from our latest report

  • In 2018 the national average carbon dioxide emissions intensity from new passenger and light commercial vehicles was 180.9 g/km. This is a 0.4 per cent improvement from 2017. This is the second lowest annual improvement since records started in 2002.
  • 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 2018 had purchased vehicles with best-in-class emissions, the national average carbon dioxide emissions intensity would have been reduced to 73 g/km, a 60 per cent reduction.
  • About 91 per cent of all new vehicle sales in 2018 were from 15 makes. Of these 15 makes, Audi had the lowest average emissions intensity (148 g/km), and Holden had the highest (216 g/km).
  • Private buyers purchased vehicles with the lowest average emissions intensity (174 g/km), followed by business buyers (186 g/km) and government buyers (195 g/km).
  • There were 93 ‘green’ car models available in Australia in 2018 (compared with 97 in 2017), which represented 4.1 per cent of total sales (compared with 3.8 per cent in 2017). A ‘green’ car is defined as a vehicle with emissions intensity that does not exceed 120 g/km.
  • There were 2,357 electric vehicles sold in 2018 (compared with 2,424 in 2017). This is a 3 per cent decrease from 2017. 

Comparing Australia and Europe

  • The average emission intensity for new passenger vehicles in European countries was 118.6 g/km in 2017. In the same year, Australia’s average emissions intensity for passenger vehicles was 171.5 g/km, 45 per cent higher.
  • There are many reasons why Australian light vehicle emissions intensity are higher than in Europe. Some of the reasons include:
    • Australians' preference for heavier vehicles with larger and more powerful engines
    • Australia has a lower proportion of diesel-powered engines
    • Australia has fewer government incentives for lower emissions vehicles
    • relatively lower fuel prices in Australia compared with Europe.

Information in the report is based on data provided by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and is published annually.