Thirsty, dirty work

Aus­tralia’s ap­petite for utes and SUVs has put the brakes on re­duc­ing emis­sions

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FEATURE | EMISSIONS UPDATE - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

SOME of Aus­tralia’s big­gest brands in­creased their av­er­age CO2 emis­sions last year.

Among the top 10 brands, Mazda, Ford and Holden bucked the trend to­wards greener cars in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est ve­hi­cle emis­sions re­port by the Na­tional Trans­port Com­mis­sion.

Mazda blames record sales of its BT-50 ute and a buyer shift from small cars to SUVs for the re­sult.

For Ford and Holden, V8s were the cul­prits. En­thu­si­asts rushed to buy per­for­mance Fal­cons and Com­modores be­fore lo­cal fac­to­ries shut.

Ford was also the largest con­trib­u­tor to the in­crease in the emis­sions of sports cars — the big­gest up­surge of any ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory in Aus­tralia last year, up by 13 per cent — largely due to the pop­u­lar­ity of the Mus­tang V8.

More than 6200 Mus­tangs were sold here in 2016. The pre­vi­ous year the four-cylin­der Toy­ota 86 led that seg­ment with 3000 sales.

The re­port also re­vealed a stark con­trast be­tween the emis­sions of cars sold by each au­to­mo­tive brand in Aus­tralia ver­sus Europe.

Brands such as Toy­ota, Holden (Gen­eral Mo­tors), Nis­san, Ford and Hyundai each had more than 50 per cent higher emis­sions for their ve­hi­cle fleets sold in Aus­tralia than in Europe.

Part of the rea­son for that trend is the pop­u­lar­ity of work utes — the Toy­ota HiLux was the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar ve­hi­cle last year, while the Ford Ranger was ranked fourth.

Cars on Aus­tralian roads belched out on av­er­age up to 50 per cent more toxic fumes than those in Europe last year.

In 2016 the na­tional av­er­age emis­sion for pas­sen­ger cars, SUVs, utes and vans was 182 grams per kilo­me­tre. Europe’s av­er­age was 120g/km.

Had Aus­tralians bought the most ef­fi­cient cars in each class, the na­tional av­er­age ve­hi­cle emis­sions would be just 75g/km, a re­duc­tion of 59 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year’s fig­ure.

Gov­ern­ment fleets are among the big­gest pol­luters, de­spite preach­ing the “green car” mes­sage to pri­vate buy­ers.

In a ma­jor em­bar­rass­ment for gov­ern­ment at all lev­els, the lo­cal, state and fed­eral fleets were among the five worst pol­luters.

The com­mis­sion says: “Pri­vate buy­ers pur­chased ve­hi­cles with the low­est av­er­age emis­sions in­ten­sity (176g/km), fol­lowed by busi­ness buy­ers (187g/km) and gov­ern­ment buy­ers (201g/km).”

State gov­ern­ment fleets had the high­est emis­sions (204g), ahead of their fed­eral coun­ter­part (200g) and coun­cils (195g/km).

Aus­tralia’s tailpipe emis­sions have come down by 28 per cent over the past 15 years. How­ever, they ap­peared to plateau from 2015 to 2016, with a mod­est drop of just 1.1 per cent — the small­est de­cline since 2002, when fig­ures were first re­ported.

Our na­tional ve­hi­cle emis­sions over the past two years fell by less than half the rate of Europe.

Ex­perts say our ap­petite for big­ger, thirstier cars with higher emis­sions is largely fu­elled by cheaper prices at the bowser.

Aus­tralia has the fourth cheap­est petrol in the world and the sixth cheap­est diesel — and among the low­est taxes — ac­cord­ing to Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Petroleum fig­ures for the fi­nal quar­ter of 2016.

Trade-off: Utes, main pic­ture, are pop­u­lar for work and play but are big on fumes; sporty V8 Ford Mus­tang; small hatches, be­low, still ex­ceed Euro­pean av­er­age

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