With rising fuel prices and environmental concerns, many people are becoming concerned about their car’s fuel consumption, and want to make sure their next one is more efficient.
Comparing the fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of different models is easy. All new passenger cars, 4WDs and commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes have to show this information at the point of sale on a label on their windscreen.
The sticker, introduced by the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO), looks like the energy label you’re probably familiar with from your fridge or washing machine. It shows the car’s fuel consumption in litres per 100 km, and its carbon dioxide emissions — so the lower the numbers, the better. A difference in fuel consumption of 1 L/100 km will cost — or save — you almost $200 a year (assuming 15,000 km/year and petrol at $1.30 a litre).
The consumption rating is based on a standard city drive cycle, so you can compare different models. However, the actual consumption you’ll achieve can be considerably different, depending on:
- Your driving style: such as avoiding hard acceleration and braking.
- The car’s condition: for example, keeping the tyres inflated as recommended and the engine well tuned.
- Traffic conditions: such as spending a lot of time stuck in traffic jams.
The information from the fuel consumption label together with additional emission data is used for the government's Green Vehicle Guide.
And the AGO has a database with fuel consumption figures for cars manufactured since 1986 — useful if you want to buy a used car or check the figures for your current car.
The label also shows the amount of carbon dioxide (in grams per km) the vehicle would emit in the test cycle.
About 16% of Australian greenhouse gas emissions come from the transport sector, and a large chunk of that from cars. Each litre of petrol produces about 2.5 kg of greenhouse gases, each litre of diesel about 3 kg. But that’s not all. Motor vehicles are the main culprits for air pollutants such as carbon monoxide (about 90%), oxides of nitrogen (about 80%), hydrocarbons (about 40%) and particles (about 30%).
With this label you can make an informed decision, saving on fuel costs and helping the environment. And if manufacturers accept that low fuel consumption is a marketing advantage, we will eventually see more efficient models on the market.