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Australia Seeks Public Discussion of Measures to Encourage the Adoption of More Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Projected average CO2 emissions of the Australian LDV fleet under a range of CO2 targets. Fleet-wide improvements take a long time even with aggressive new vehicle targets. Click to enlarge.

The Australian Transport Council and the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Working Group, with support from the Australian Government, have released a public discussion paper on potential measures to increase the adoption of more fuel-efficient, low-carbon emission vehicles.

Among the measures considered are a CO2 emissions standard for new vehicles; standards for non-engine components; and feebate programs. Closing date for public comments is 7 November 2008.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) requested the ATC and the EPHC to provide a report on relevant programs and incentives and to provide advice on opportunities for reforms to regulations, standards, codes and labelling requirements to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

Following consideration of an initial report, COAG requested ATC and EPHC to develop jointly a package of vehicle fuel efficiency measures. In response to that request, the two produced the public discussion paper: Vehicle Fuel Efficiency: Potential measures to encourage the uptake of more fuel efficient, low carbon emission vehicles.

The Australian Vehicle Fleet. Australia has about 15 million motor vehicles on its roads, with passenger vehicles accounting for 77% of that. The fleet growth rate has averaged 2.9% per year since 2003. In 2007, 1.05 million vehicles sold in Australia, 60% of which were passenger cars and 19% of which were SUVs. SUV sales have been gaining steadily over the past 20 years.

Gasoline is the dominant passenger vehicle fuel, while diesel dominates in the heavy vehicle sector. Diesel passenger car sales have risen from 1% in 2005 to more than 4% in 2007. Around 3% of the total vehicle fleet is powered by LPG; annual sales of factory-fitted LPG models rose to 1.6% in 2007.

Average fuel consumption for the gasoline-fueled passenger vehicle fleet is 11.2 L/100km (21 mpg US). Average fuel consumption for diesel-fueled passenger vehicles is higher—12.5 L/100km (18.8 mpg US), reflecting the current situation in which these vehicles tend to be larger SUVs .

The average fuel consumption of all light vehicles has hardly changed over the last decade. Engine technology in terms of fuel consumption per power output has improved substantially and there has been an improvement in fuel efficiency in the new passenger vehicle fleet. However, potential fuel savings across the whole light vehicle fleet have been offset by increases in vehicle power, size and weight, by the strong growth in sales of four wheel drive sports utility vehicles (SUVs), and increases in the fuel consumption of light commercial vehicles.

—“Vehicle Fuel Efficiency”

The transport sector contributed 79.1 Mt CO2e (13.7%) of Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions in 2006. Road transport was responsible for 87% of that, or 12.0% of Australia’s total emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from road transport have been increasing at an average of 1.7% per year since 1990.

Ongoing strong demand growth in all areas of road transportation is expected to lead to ongoing growth in CO2 emissions within the road transport sector. The Australian Government has committed to cutting total greenhouse gas emissions by 60%, from 2000 levels, by 2050.

The primary mechanism for achieving these cuts will be through the development and implementation of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS)—an economy-wide carbon cap program—which begins operation in 2010. The Government is proposing including the transport sector in the CPRS; the carbon price arising from the CPRS will be reflected in the price of transport fuels.

Existing and proposed international greenhouse emission targets for passenger vehicles. All standards are converted to gCO2/km, according to the new European drive cycle (NEDC). The 2012 figure for the EU assumes a 120 g/km achievement. The California line is dotted, pending go-ahead. Click to enlarge.

Fuel consumption targets. Australia does not have a mandatory fuel consumption requirement such as the US CAFE. It does have a voluntary national average fuel consumption (NAFC) target for new passenger cars, negotiated between the Australian Government and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

The target established in 2003 was 6.8 L/100km (34.6 mpg US) for gasoline passenger cars by 2010. Achieving this would represent an estimated 18% improvement in the fuel consumption of new vehicles between 2002 and 2010.

Australia changed the fuel consumption testing procedure that underpinned the NAFC target in 2004. The revised test (in Australian Design Rule (ADR) 81/01) produces higher nominal fuel consumption figures for the same vehicle model than the previous testing procedure. ADR81/01 also expanded the scope of vehicles to include diesel and LPG vehicles, and increased the maximum mass from 2.7 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes.

Australia is converting the NAFC target to a National Carbon Emissions (NACE) target expressed in gCO2/km, although agreement on a NACE target has yet to be achieved, according to the report.

The FCAI has proposed a NACE target of 222 g CO2/km for all new light vehicles by 2010. An independent analysis, commissioned by the FCAI and the Australian Government in 2004, recommended a NACE target of 214 g CO2/km for new light vehicles by 2010. The FCAI proposal represents virtually no improvement over the NACE already achieved in 2007.

—“Vehicle Fuel Efficiency”

Measures. The discussion paper considers a set of possible complementary measures to support the CPRS within the road transport sector. Key measures include:

  • Impose sales-weighted average CO2 emission standards for new light vehicles. The report suggests that to provide adequate time for the vehicle industry to respond, a two-step standard could be considered, with an initial target date of 2015 and a longer term target for 2020.

  • Realign existing State and Territory stamp duty and/or registration charges for light motor vehicles on a sliding scale based on greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Encourage consumer uptake of low emission vehicles by establishing a balanced set of direct financial incentives and disincentives based on the CO2 emissions performance of a vehicle—i.e., feebates.

  • Develop a voluntary scheme that supports the adoption of best-practice fuel efficiency strategies in government and business light vehicle fleets. The measure could include (1) comprehensive information and advice on greenhouse abatement strategies to government and business fleet operators; and (2) a national fleet accreditation process which supports government and business fleet operators to set and achieve voluntary, enterprise-level fleet greenhouse emission targets.

  • Including fuel consumption data in vehicle advertisements.

  • Introduce standards or labelling requirements for non-engine components—such as tires, tire pressure monitors and vehicle air conditioning units—which impact on vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

  • Establish a heavy-duty vehicle environmental rating scheme to provide guidance for heavy-vehicle buyers in relation to fuel efficiency.

  • Establish a scheme aimed at assisting road transport operators to evaluate new low emission transport technologies applicable to light commercial vehicles, heavy trucks and buses. This would provide the transport industry with independent information on options to reduce fuel consumption.

The ATC/EPHC Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Working Group will consider the comments and advice received during the consultation process to inform the preparation of a final report to the ATC and the EPHC. ATC and the EPHC expect to consider the final report in early 2009.




This is very surprising for those of us who often blame China for being a worse polluter than us.

China's average light vehicles CO2 emission of about 175g/Km vs 250g/Km for USA and California constitute a clear wake up call.

Secondly, it seems that China has been reducing the average light vehicle CO2 emission faster that us. Another wake up call.

Could it be that we are not doing as good as we think?


Harvey "Could it be that we are not doing as good as we think?"

There is a huge caveat to the 175g/Km you quoted for China. The 175g/Km for 'cars' may be correct, however 75%-80% of the vehicles in Asia (this includes China) are two or three wheeled 'Scooters' with TWO-STROKE ENGINES. These pollution factories are not calculated in your 175g/Km for 'cars'.

We are decades ahead of China and at the current rate that they are building coal fired power plants with 30 year old tech, the gap will most likely widen.



On a one on one basis, China is a few years behind us with CO2 emissions. Will they ever catch up to our 20+tonne per capita? If they electrify their vehicles on a masive scale (and they will) and built 120+ nuclear power plants (and they will) they may level off at about 10-tonne per capita.

Meanwhile, can we reduce ours from 20-tonnes to 10-tonnes per capita? We may, when fossil liquid fuels and coal run out by 2100 or so or if the current economic crisis gets much worse and last longer than we think.

Interesting years/decades ahead.

John Taylor

The Australian Transport Council and the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Working Group does not seem to have heard about electric cars, and have no plans that include these being introduced.

Someone needs to send in a wake up note.
Perhaps it could be pinned onto the ATC/EPHC pillows while they have nap time.


Harvey, per capita is a very misleading comparison. 55% of the Chinese population has never used a telephone. The US domestic product(13.7)is almost twice that of China's(6.9) yet China pollutes more than the US.



I agree with you that per capita GHG is misleading but so are all other methods. Everybody favors the method that benefit them the most. That's what politicians (and many of us) do to look good.

A fair method would include all (weighted by categories) imports and exports + trade deficits and surpluses etc.

For example: manufacturing (exporting) hardware for $1B may create 1000+ times more GHG than selling (exporting) software for $1B on the Internet.

Secondly, how can we compare GHG per GDP between a country with $800B/year trade deficits and another with $800B/year trade surpluses etc.

To keep it very simple, the per capita method is just as good as other simple methods such as GHG per GDP.

As far as mother Earth is concerned, GHG per square kilometer may be the most relevant method. Canada & Australia would look real good.


John - "Someone needs to send in a wake up note.
Perhaps it could be pinned onto the ATC/EPHC pillows while they have nap time."

So make a submission - I am certainly going to.


I second Ender's call, as there is currently no thought process behind introducing short or medium distance electrics in city/suburban areas. Hybrids are ok but still very expensive and their fuel economy is actually rubbish from first hand experience.

Though there is a small hurdle to overcome with family sized vehicles and road 4WDs (SUVs) that nobody seems to have tackled.
Over here in the West of Australia where the land is red and the distances between localities great, you need vehices that are comfortable for long trips (30-50km).
This means larger overall mass to absorb bumps for the crap roads, larger engines that are quieter (emmit lower frequency sound that does not begin to grade your brain) and a decent air-conditioner for when the weather spikes above 35 Celcius.

Alternate implementations for large vehicles exist, but not without sacrificing cost (both initial and ongoing), comfort or road stability by large margins.

At the moment a new large family vehicle of the 4L V6 variety with modest kit will set you back about $AU 25-30,000 or about 20-25k in US moneys. Thats very affordable compared to $35,000 for a Prius as an example. The difference between fuel economies of each can't justify the cost difference unless you are a Taxi service.

Will S

NooGums wrote:

> Hybrids are ok but still very expensive and their fuel economy is actually rubbish from first hand experience.

My Honda Insight averages 65-75 mpg highway/city with careful driving. My wife's Prius averages between 50-60 mpg highway/city with careful driving.

For a comparison using http://www.fueleconomy.gov with a "$25,000 USD 4L V6", let's pick the cheapest Ford Taurus (really a 3.5 L) which will consume $2656 per year with gas at $3.72/gallon over 15,000 miles. The $27,000 USD Prius will consume $1211 in gas with the same driving profile, giving $1445 in savings per year. It would take less than a year and a half to payback the savings.

Let's then pick an SUV, such as the GMC Envoy, which will consume $3488/yr, giving the Prius $2177 in savings per year, clearly paying itself back in less than a year, and with $21,000 in gas savings over 10 years.

> The difference between fuel economies of each can't justify the cost difference unless you are a Taxi service.

We would clearly have to disagree. Please show your calculations.


Hi Will.

Well first of all regarding the fuel economy of the Toyota Prius. I was averaging about 7l/100 km, or equivalent to 33.6MPG (US). This conversion is from http://www.tdiclub.com/misc/conversions.html so don't shoot the messanger.
How was I getting this fuel economy you might say? Regular stop and start, which eats up all the battery capacity under 60km/hour in no time, then the Prius becomes an underpowered vehicle who'se engine I assume tries a bit harder to keep up. Granted I was not feathering the acceleration to save fuel, but then you can't in that circumstance without pissing off the cars behind you. This was in Melbourne City after all (East of Australia) which is very congested.
So in reality I would be consuming more around the $2000 per year mark rather then your proposed $1211.
Secondly, the price I mentioned for vehicle purchase is accurate for Australia. It was a company vehicle for $35,000 with corporate discounts. At the time if I had wanted one it would have been $40,000 easily. The US gets them cheaper by a wide margin.
Today even, after the vehicle has been on sale for a while (granted, people like them more now then the past), the price taken from Toyota Australia is still "Prius: 1.5L Petrol / Electric combination CVT from $37,400*" or "Prius i-Tech: 1.5L Petrol / Electric combination CVT from $46,900*"
The little astrix adds the on road costs and other taxes which eat another $2-3,000.
This therefore brings me back to my original point. In this country under those driving conditions this vehicle is not cost viable.
To the vehicle's credit, it is quiet and comfortable albeit a bit spartan, so it satisfies those other requirements.

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