Australia’s love of utes and SUVs is partly responsible for holding back the push to reduce tailpipe emissions, even as sales of electrified vehicles jump to new heights.

    That’s according to the National Transport Commission, a government-funded advisory body based in Melbourne tasked with land transport reform.

    It notes that transport accounts for 18 per cent of Australia’s CO2 emissions and says the cars we drive “are the largest contributor”.

    Its report this week noted the emissions intensity of new light vehicles sold in Australia fell by only 2 per cent in 2021 despite over-indexed growth in hybrid and EV uptake across the year.

    Of all new passenger cars sold in Australia last year, only 45 per cent had an emissions intensity of 160 grams per kilometre or less – compared with 90 per cent in Europe.

    This is a big factor in why there’s currently so much lobbying for Australia’s federal government to legislate a binding emissions-reduction scheme – like most other developed countries.

    The body claimed increased sales of SUVs and utes in segments “where there are fewer choices for cleaner vehicles” was a big factor in tempering emissions cuts.

    Sales of 4×4 utes grew 24.1 per cent last year and the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger topped the overall charts. The emissions intensity for many of these popular vehicles exceeds 210g/km.

    Furthermore, sales of large SUVs were up 22.9 per cent.

    As both segments grew faster than the total market, their market share grew as well, and combined these two segments accounted for 31 per cent of the overall new vehicle sales tally.

    It’s also worth noting that sales in the small car segment represented a quarter of all sales in 2011 but decreased to 11 per cent share by 2021. Meantime, about half of all new car sales were SUVs, up from a quarter of all sales a decade ago.

    BEV market share in Australia sat below 2 per cent last year. This figure was 17 per cent in Europe, 16 per cent in China, 5 per cent in the United States and 4.4 per cent in New Zealand.

    This is growing though, with BEVs taking 4×4 per cent market share here in August – a new monthly record.

    MORE: 2021 FCAI Australian car CO2 report – slight reductions, behind target
    MORE: Dumping ground no more? Australian Government’s affordable EV push
    MORE: All the EVs coming to Australia: Launch calendar, what’s here already?

    MORE: Australia’s best-selling EVs in the first half of 2022

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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