Government set to tackle vehicle emissions head on

A new era of vehicle emissions reduction strategy could be upon us, with the issuing of a discussion paper intended to lead the conversation as Australia moves into a cleaner, greener future. Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt stressed the importance of opening up the discussion around emissions now, in the interest of cleaning up the air around us while reducing car fuel consumption.

"Around 17% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions are from transport. In cities such as Sydney on-road motor-vehicles can contribute around 60% of some noxious air pollutants," said Mr Hunt, at the announcement of the white paper.

"The paper examines options for improving standards for air pollutants and fuel efficiency (CO2) standards, ways to better educate and inform consumers, alternative fuels and electric vehicles, the use of incentives and bolstering emissions testing arrangements."

For fleet managers, working out which cars are the worst polluters could make a difference.

According to the discussion paper, light petrol vehicles are the biggest culprits when it comes to noxious emissions, although diesel engines must also shoulder some of the blame. For fleet managers, working out which cars are the worst polluters could make a difference when it comes time to offload some assets.

Industry applauds the government's initiative

Any serious moves to clean up Australian air quality should be cause for some celebration, and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) is appropriately enthusiastic about the government's new focus on improving standards.

"It is important the Government considers a range of policy matters, including fuel quality, infrastructure and incentives for the take up of low-emissions vehicles, and driver behaviour," says Tony Weber, FCAI chief executive.

"I am pleased the Government has recognised in its discussion paper the need to consider all of these factors before a target can be determined."

While the future of cars in Australia - and across the globe - is possibly inching away from petrol and diesel vehicles altogether, the continued research and investment into cleaner fuel technology is still a vibrant and important part of automobile manufacturing.

The government wants to protect our environment with more efficient fuel consumption. The government wants to protect our environment with more efficient fuel consumption.

Heavy hitters bringing more to the green vehicle table

Chicago has recently played host to its annual auto show, the largest and longest-running of its kind in the US, and the debut site for a number of new models from the world's largest vehicle manufacturers. Amongst this year's offerings are new generations of hybrid utility vehicles (HUV) from Volvo and Kia, indicating the popularity of the class.

The 2016 Volvo XC90, expected to indicate an entirely new direction for the iconic Swedish brand, features a supercharged 320-horsepower T6 hybrid engine, making sure drivers have power when they need it. However, a simple button press switches the new HUV to an emission-free, pure electric mode intended for inner-city driving. 

Research and investment into cleaner fuel technology is still a vibrant and important part of automobile manufacturing.

Meanwhile, Korean carmaker Kia also used the show to introduce their new generation HUV, the Niro. Employing weight-reduction strategies in the manufacturing process, such as aluminium for the bonnet and some suspension elements, the Niro's fuel consumption is projected to be an impressive 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

These are just two examples of the dozens of hybrid and electric vehicles on display at the Chicago Auto Show, highlighting the industry's commitment to reducing its impact on the environment with alternative fuel sources. 

Good news for fleet maintenance and management

The government's commitment to tackle emissions, coupled with the rapid development of new hybrid and electric vehicles, puts the automotive space in Australia in a uniquely interesting area. With more alternatives to petrol available, fleet managers can look forward to reducing their ongoing costs. 

If fuel consumption is a major concern for your company, speak to Smartfleet about how our fleet management software can help you monitor your vehicles.