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The type of vehicle you buy has a profound impact on your transport emissions.

Specifying a Low Emission Vehicle requires you to consider the driving task and match the class and size of vehicle to your needs.

All else being equal, bigger vehicles require more energy to move – meaning more fuel consumption, higher costs and more greenhouse gas emissions. Consider:

  • How many passengers the vehicle will typically carry?
  • What size load – weight and volume – will be transported?
  • Does any freight need protection from the weather and movement, or is open carriage acceptable?
  • Consider freight loading / unloading? and
  • What conditions will the vehicle encounter (eg predominantly urban, highway or off-road driving; use in depots or warehouses)?

Consider also the shape of the vehicle. Aerodynamics plays a significant role in fuel consumption, especially at higher speeds. For vehicles often driven on freeways and highways, aerodynamics will be critical. Aerodynamic aids are relatively easily retrofitted.

The transport task may also place limits on the drivetrain and fuel options available to you. Consider when, where, how far and in what context the vehicle will be driven.

Need some guidance? Click here to use our vehicle specification tool.

Selecting a Vehicle

Once you've specified the type of vehicle that can meet your needs, as well as identified any limitations, you can better select the right model of vehicle for you, considering key characteristics such as technology (ICE, hybrid, electric), fuel type, fuel efficiency and emissions performance.

Selecting a Drivetrain and Fuel

Often, a range of drivetrains and fuels are suitable. Consider:

  • What length trips are likely;
  • Annual distance travelled;
  • Whether trips are base-to-base or to a wide range of locations; and
  • How many vehicles you operate.

Efficiency and Emissions Performance

Vehicle efficiency and emissions performance vary considerably, even for the same class and technology.

The Australian Government’s Green Vehicle Guide (for new light vehicles) and the Fuel Consumption Guide Database (for older light vehicles) offer comprehensive comparison.

For other vehicles, aim to match the transmission and engine power / torque to the task. Engines tend to operate more efficiently at lower revs per minute (RPM).

For heavy vehicles, see the Australian Government's Truck Buyers Guide.

You can use our vehicle comparison tool to compare the fuel and purchase costs of two vehicles.

In Fleets

The way a vehicle is allocated and used within a fleet context, too, affects the total emissions for a given transport task. Consider:

  • Maintaining a fleet of vehicles matched to your driving task, rather than a single vehicle type specified for your maximum need.
  • Operating a vehicle allocation system which matches the trip requirements to the vehicle’s capacity. There is no advantage in allocating a large off-road vehicle for one person’s short trip across the suburbs.
  • Monitoring your vehicle and fleet’s performance over time. This will enable you to quickly and accurately identify the outcomes of your allocation methods.

Other Considerations

Global positioning systems and information technology may improve performance monitoring and routing. Consider the energy required for ancilliary equipment – air conditioning, refrigeration, cranes and loaders, etc.