Australian sales spike for fuel-efficient cars

Australian new-car buyers set a new record in fuel-efficient car sales.

Toyota Out Front Fuel Station Jpg

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has reported that Australian consumers purchased a record number of fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles in 2015. The jump in sales is the largest the NTC has reported since it began keeping score in 2004. 

Paul Retter, Chief Executive of the NTC noted that 4.7 per cent of new cars sold in 2015 were classified as low-emissions vehicles; that’s a 1.9 per cent increase from 2014. For a car to qualify as a low-emissions vehicle, it must emit less than 120 grams of carbon dioxide for every kilometer travelled.

“Today’s consumers are spoilt for choice. In 2015 there were 72 different types of fuel-efficient cars on the market up from just 59 in 2014. Back in 2008 there were just seven fuel-efficient cars available,” said Retter.


Number of low-emissions 
cars sold in Australia

Percentage of total
sold in Australia



0.6 %



0.7 %



0.6 %



0.8 %



1.2 %



2.2 %



2.8 %



4.7 %

The increasing attraction to environmentally-conscious vehicles has reportedly helped drop the national average carbon emissions intensity 27 per cent compared to 2002. Despite the improvement, Australian consumers still gravitate towards cars with an on average 43 per cent higher carbon emissions intensity than our European counterparts.

“There are a number of reasons for this, including that Australians generally prefer heavier vehicles with bigger, more powerful engines, and our fuel prices are lower. Europeans also have more incentives to purchase low-emissions vehicles,” Retter explained.

The top-selling low-emissions vehicles for 2015 are:


Sales in 2015

Toyota Prius (Prius and Prius C)


Audi A3 (A3 and A3 Sportback)


Mazda 2


Mini Cooper


Lexus CT200H


Mitsubishi OUTLANDER


Passenger cars and trucks are a major cause of air pollution in urban areas. In fact, road traffic is responsible for over 13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia.

Owning an eco-friendly car doesn’t just mean spending less time and money at the servo. Hybrid, electric and fuel-efficient petrol cars burn less oil and emit substantially less pollution than conventional vehicles.

Governments from across the world have put in place all kinds of incentives for eco-friendly car buyers. These incentives range from dedicated parking spots for Hybrid and EV owners, to major tax benefits and discounts. Australia may be one of the more unenlightened countries in this regard but thankfully, there are still some financial perks to buying ‘green’.

Luxury cars with a combined-cycle fuel consumption of 7.0L/100km are classified as ‘green’ cars and are therefore subject to a higher Luxury Car Tax (LCT) threshold. This means that ‘green’ cars get a tax break, and if the purchase price falls below the increased threshold, can be exempt from LCT all together.

Other incentives include reduced stamp duty for electric cars in ACT, and various registration discounts for low-emissions vehicles in Victoria.

In light of new emerging technology, and the increase in low-emissions car sales, there has been a big call for added government incentives. As other countries continue to provide benefits for eco-friendly motorists, we hope Australia will follow suit.


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Spencer Leech

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