Australians are buying more fuel efficient cars than they used to a decade ago.
According to the latest report from the National Transport Commission (NTC), 2014's national average from carbon emissions was 188 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, which is a decrease of 2.3 per cent from 2013.
CEO of the NTC Paul Retter said this result shows that manufacturers are making an effort to help Australia become more sustainable. According to him the average emissions intensity has reduced between 18 and 28 per cent in the last decade. Consumers too seem to have developed a preference for fuel efficient vehicles.
"Australians have always loved their cars, but this data shows that more and more they are loving cars that save them money at the fuel pump," he said.
How things have changed
Today there are over 59 models of cars available in Australia that emit less than 120 grams of carbon dioxide for every kilometre they travel. In 2004 there were only three low omission options available to buyers.
The comprehensive report titled "New Australian Light Vehicles Carbon Dioxide Emissions Intensity 2014" also indicates that emissions have reduced by at least 22 per cent in the last 10 years.
With an average reduction in emissions of 32 and 29 percent respectively the sports and SUVs segments improved the most. Emissions from petrol powered vehicles fell by 26 per cent.
Mr Retter commented not every Australian is choosing a sustainable vehicle.
"If every new car buyer chose the lowest emissions car available our national average emissions would improve by 50 per cent," he said.
The study shows 15 makes attracted around 91 per cent of all new vehicle buyers.
Of these popular brands, BMW was the most sustainable with an average emissions intensity of 151 g/km, while Jeep had the highest intensity at 222 g/km. The national average for Australian-made vehicles has remained at 210 g/km since 2012.
In terms of the buyer demographic, private buyers purchased the most vehicles with lowest average emissions intensity, closely followed by business buyers. Government buyers, however, bought the least sustainable vehicles.
How Australia compares to the world
Australia was outperformed by the European Union in 2014 - our average emission intensity was 43 per cent higher than Europe. The countries that showed the highest annual reductions were Norway, the Netherlands and Greece, which showed reductions of 13.2 per cent, 8 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively.
However, 2013 was a better year for Australia, when average emissions fell by 4.2 per cent compared to 2012. During this period European average emissions were reduced by 3.8 per cent.
Reactions from the industry
FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber welcomed the overall reduction since 2004. He said this was well in excess of the Australian government's target of a 5 per cent reduction in nation-wide emissions by 2020.
"Around the world, vehicle manufacturers are committed to developing and delivering new technologies that reduce CO2 emission in their vehicles," he added.
He also commented that SUVs and Light Commercial Vehicles now account for more than half of the new car market. This is a huge change since 2005, when passenger cars made for at least six in 10 purchases.
The NSW State Government is considering the introduction of vehicle emissions as a factor in determining vehicle registration costs. It is not likely to be included as a factor used in determining Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance prices.