Australia’s biggest polluters revealed
EXCLUSIVE government figures have highlighted the big polluters on our roads.
Growing demand for four-wheel-drive utes and high-riding SUVs has stymied a shift toward more efficient vehicles as Australians choose cars which suit their preferences as opposed to those benefiting the environment.
Heroes and villains in the National Transport Commission's carbon dioxide intensity paper include brands well ahead of the national average and others that aren't as green as they purport to be.
Average emissions by new cars reduced by 0.4 per cent to 180.9 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre in 2018, or roughly that of a medium SUV.
The figures do not compare well with Europe, where the average car emits 118.5g/km of carbon dioxide, or about the same as a small hatchback and 34.5 per cent less than Australian models.
Brands which specialise in small cars, such as Mini, Suzuki and Fiat, have no trouble staying below the national average.
But broader showrooms from Audi and BMW, which include a wide spread of vehicles including high-performance machines and seven-seat SUVs, have done well to undercut the likes of Honda and Renault with average emissions of less than 160g/km.
The report's authors say "consumer preferences are an important factor affecting the national average of carbon dioxide emissions intensity for new vehicles".
Brands such as Mazda, which sit well below the average and make increasingly efficient cars, saw emissions increase as more people trade hatchbacks for crossovers.
Volkswagen's decision to shift away from diesel power in passenger cars while promoting performance-oriented versions of the Golf, Tiguan and Amarok saw CO2 pollution climb by 4.2 per cent in 12 months.
Unsurprisingly, America's Jeep, Chrysler and RAM are on the naughty side of the ledger, joined by luxury marques Porsche and Maserati.
Rolls-Royce' combination of enormous cars and huge engines results in the worst average emissions performance, followed by Lamborghini.
While individual cars are getting more efficient - a 2016 Toyota Corolla needs an extra 0.7 litres of unleaded compared to a 2018 example - folks are increasingly likely to choose bigger machines.
Passenger car sales plummeted by 15.9 per cent in 2018 as buyers turned to utes and SUVs which saw sales growth in the same period.
The NTC compiled data from the 150 best-selling cars in Australia which revealed eight of the 10 thirstiest models were utes or SUVs, joined on the list by Ford's V8 Mustang and the previous-generation Toyota HiAce.
It shows sales of electric vehicles fell 3 per cent from 2,424 in 2017 down to 2,357 in 2018. But electric sales have been boosted in 2019 by new models such as the Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf.
Strong sales for Toyota's Corolla and RAV4 hybrids will also help reduce emissions this year.
Though Toyota is pushing the case for efficient hybrid models, its average emissions figure of 197g/km is much higher than the national average of 181g/km because more customers choose a HiLux ute than a Corolla Hybrid.
Toyota's full-sized LandCruiser remains popular despite being powered by thirsty V8 diesel engines.
The end of local car manufacturing helped Holden reduce emissions by 9 per cent as the homegrown Commodore, including V8 variants, was consigned to history.
But Ford's average emissions have increased in line with enduring popularity for the Ranger ute and Mustang sports car.
Social analyst and automotive consultant David Chalke says utes such as the Ranger have picked up where V8-powered sedans left off.
While the late Ford Falcon XR8 or Commodore SS combined family-friendly practicality with a hint of Bathurst-bred driving heroics, dual-cab utes give off an action man image which sits well with Aussie blokes.
"These are dominant expressions of testosterone-riddled masculinity," Chalke says.
"We can tow the jet ski at the weekend, or take the trailer with a couple of dirt bikes on it. This is cashed-up-bogan heaven.
"They are somewhat anti-social in their nature. That's really the appeal."