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New cars clean up their act

Winners and losers: Jeep was the worst of the top 15 sellers, while Toyota’s Camry Hybrid made big gains.

Australia’s average exhaust pipe emissions falls, but we still lag Europe


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14 Mar 2013

AVERAGE emissions for all new cars sold in Australia have fallen below 200 grams per kilometre in 2012, data from the National Transport Authority shows.

However, while the Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2012 information paper shows the average emissions across all cars and light commercial vehicles sold here fell to 199g/km – a 3.7 per cent reduction compared with 2011’s 206.6g/km – Australian-made cars continue to lag the field, posting an average of only 210g/km.

But while this looks bad, Australia’s car-makers improved emissions by an impressive 9 per cent compared with last year -- more than double the combined fleet average.

Of the three car-makers, market giant Toyota had the best emissions average, posting 181g/km across its Camry four-cylinder and Aurion V6 models.

Ford’s six-cylinder petrol and V6 diesel Territory soft-roader and Falcon four- and six-cylinder large sedan and ute earned the car-maker’s reputation as the highest emitter, posting a 238g/km average.

Holden, meanwhile, combined its Cruze small car with its Commodore V6- and V8-engined sedan, wagon and ute to post a 217g/km average.

However, it wasn’t all rosy for Holden, with the Cruze the only locally made car to increase its carbon footprint based on buyer preferences, with emissions for the model rising by 1.7 per cent.

This compares with a 1 per cent improvement for both the Commodore sedan and ute, and is despite the Cruze winning $149 million of taxpayer-backed Green Car Innovation Fund support in 2008 that was meant to help local car-makers clean up their act.

A change to a new locally made 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine for the Camry and Camry Hybrid at the start of this year has yielded Toyota an emissions saving of more than 11 per cent for both models.

Meanwhile, the Falcon ute and Territory soft-roader have both made emissions gains of more than 6 per cent during 2012, while the Falcon sedan has improved its emissions average by 3.7 per cent.

Then there’s the good and the bad. Of the top 15 sellers, Jeep’s emissions for 2012 averaged 240g/km, making it the brand with the highest average emissions on sale during 2012.

The cleanest? That would be Suzuki, which posted a 157g/km average.

The whipping car of the industry, according to the report, is Ferrari, which in 2012 averaged 438g/km across its model range. Still, it was a 2 per cent improvement on 2011’s figure, it noted.

The NTC data shows that the upper large car segment – where the likes of everything from the Holden Caprice to the Jaguar XJ and even the Rolls-Royce Phantom falls -- cleaned up its act by more than 10 per cent in 2012, despite the big-bored Rolls-Royce having its best year of Australian sales ever.

Sports cars and medium SUVs were also big improvers, while down the other end of the scale were the two- and four-wheel-drive trade utes, light cars, and the big off-roaders such as the Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol.

Private buyers were the most environmentally conscious in 2012, with a fleet-beating average of 191g/km.

Business buyers, meanwhile, averaged 206g/km, while the worst for emissions turns out to be government buyers, at an average of 212g/km.

Looking at the trend in emissions, private buyers cleaned up their act by 11 per cent, government by 0.8 per cent, while the average for business customers rose by 4.1 per cent.

Based on fuel type, the average emissions for petrol-engined cars averaged 191g/km, for LPG it was 209g/km, and for diesel 217g/km.

The report says that the average emissions for new cars sold in Europe fell by 3.3 per cent in 2012, however, average emissions were much lower than for Australia at just 136g/km.

According to the NTC data, if every Australian had bought the most fuel-efficient car in the class, the fleet’s average emissions would have fallen 40 per cent to 119g/km.

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