Green Vehicle Guide – an Australian Government initiative – is a helpful resource you can use to help reduce your impact on the environment by making a conscious decision about the type of car you want to buy. It features:
You can also learn about greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions and fuel consumption labels.
Fuel consumption labels
Fuel consumption labelling on all new cars aims to help car buyers choose a car. Model-specific labels on the windscreen of new vehicles give an indication of how many litres of fuel the car would use to travel 100km in particular driving conditions, i.e. a combination of city and highway. (Actual consumption will depend on a range of factors, including traffic and weather conditions, vehicle maintenance and driving style.)
The label also indicates the amount of carbon dioxide and the main greenhouse gas that will be emitted. – the lower the better. Visit the fuel consumption website for more information.
The greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption information on the label is the same as that in the Green Vehicle Guide.
Fuel consumption guide
When buying a used car, refer to the Australian Government's Fuel Consumption Guide Database. It provides comparative data on the fuel consumption of many vehicles sold in Australia between 1986 and 2003. When comparing vehicles of the same fuel type, the higher the fuel consumption, the higher the greenhouse gas emissions.
Different fuel types also result in different levels of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Provided they are operating properly, diesel, LPG and CNG engines emit fewer greenhouse gases than conventional petrol engines. CNG also results in less air pollution than regular fuels. Diesel produces more particles than other fuels. Electric vehicles produce no emissions themselves, however, greenhouse gases and air pollutants are emitted when electricity is made from fossil fuels such as brown coal. Visit Green Wheels, an online guide enabling consumers to assess greenhouse emissions of all passenger cars sold in Australia.
Vehicle types and sizes
Different types of cars can also have varying have different impacts on the environment. The size, weight and type of engine type of a car can affect its fuel consumption and therefore its emissions. Emission controls also differ between cars.
In general, larger cars are less efficient because they are heavier and need more energy (fuel) to move around. Modern engine technologies mean that newer cars tend to use less fuel than older cars of the same size. However, the added weight and power required for automatic transmission and extras such as air-conditioners can reduce the efficiency gains of newer technologies.
The emission control technologies used in a car affect the amount of air pollution emitted. For example, catalytic converters which were introduced to Australian cars in the mid-1980s substantially reduced air pollution levels. Emission standards for cars have been getting stricter over the past 20 years and will continue to improve. Some overseas cars are equipped with pollution controls that are better than current Australian requirements.
If you have a choice between cars, choose the most efficient and least polluting car that meets your particular needs for everyday motoring. Choosing a newer car over an older car of the same size will tend to mean less air pollution (provided the newer car is well maintained).