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National car count reaches 17 million

Big numbers: Toyota is the most popular car brand on Australian roads, census data shows.

ABS census shows there are more than seven cars for every 10 Australians

General News logo25 Jul 2013


THINK the roads are becoming increasingly crowded? You may be right, because Australia now has more than 17 million cars on its roads for the first time.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics census data looking at the number of cars on our roads shows we have 17,180,596 registered vehicles, up from 16,741,644 just a year ago.

There are now 750 cars per 1000 Australian residents, up from 723 back in 2008, the ABS says.

Toyota is the most popular brand, accounting for more than 2.6 million vehicles. Behind it is Holden, with more than 2.0 million vehicles, and Ford with almost 1.8 million.

More than 71,000 Daewoos still ply our roads despite the brand disappearing in 2004, while Daihatsu, which dropped off the Australian landscape in 2005, still has more than 69,000 vehicles on the road.

Luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz have almost 300,000 vehicles each registered in the census, while fellow German Audi has more than 100,000.

Porsche has more than 24,000 cars in the database, while Range Rover has a healthy showing at just more than 20,000.

However, while you’d jump to the conclusion that most of the growth in the 2013 census data comes from the booming sales of passenger cars, the ABS data shows that over the past five years, the real growth markets have been light trucks, camper vans and motorcycles.

Growth in motorcycles has grown so much over the last year that they have eaten into the number of passenger cars sold around Australia, where the overall number of car registrations has declined. Western Australia and the Northern Territory were the only two state or territory to increase the proportion of passenger cars.

Two-wheeled transport made up 4.3 per cent of sales for the 2013 financial year, while light commercial vehicles – the likes of the Ford Ranger and the Toyota HiLux – accounted for 15 per cent of the national fleet.

There are more big trucks on the road, with registrations of vehicles that can carry more than 20 tonnes growing by almost 20 per cent over the past five years, the data shows – and they’re getting bigger.

Prime movers only account for 0.5 per cent of the vehicles on our roads, but the number of trucks that can carry up to 40 tonnes has fallen 15 per cent. This has been offset by a 22 per cent jump in the number of trucks able to haul 60 to 100 tonnes, the data shows.

Meanwhile, the number of trucks able to lug more than 100 tonnes has grown by more than 50 per cent.

New South Wales remains the hotspot for vehicle registrations, with almost 5.0 million on its register. Victoria follows with almost 4.4 million, while Queensland showed the second-highest growth in the 2013 census data, pegging more than 3.6 million registrations.

The highest growth in vehicle registrations was in the Northern Territory, which accounts for more than 148,000 vehicles.

The age of vehicles on Australian roads has not changed. Despite booming new-car sales, the average age is still 10 years, the fourth year in a row that it has remained steady.

Tasmania has the oldest car fleet on the road, averaging 12 years and growing older, while the Northern Territory has the youngest fleet, averaging 8.8 years.

This year, 501,020 Australian vehicles were using fuels other than petrol or diesel, compared with 13.2 million running on unleaded fuel and more than 2.9 million using diesel.

Interestingly, 320,748 passenger cars were accounted as still using leaded fuel, suggesting Australia’s fleet of old bangers is still substantial.

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