What are Australia's most popular fuel-efficient cars?

Interest in fuel-efficient cars has traditionally been slow in Australia. The country's propensity for larger vehicles with powerful engines has hindered adoption, while comparatively low fuel prices and a lack of incentives has also curtailed demand.

"Today's consumers are spoilt for choice."

Nevertheless, new figures suggest Australians are becoming more environmentally aware. The National Transport Commission (NTC) revealed that a record number of low-emission, fuel-efficient vehicles were purchased last year. 

In total, 52,613 of these automobiles were sold in 2015, compared with 29,905 over the previous 12-month period. Fuel-efficient vehicles now comprise 4.7% of all cars bought in Australia, which is higher than the 2.8% in 2014 and far beyond the 0.6% in 2008.

"Today's consumers are spoilt for choice," said Chief Executive of the NTC Paul Retter. 

"In 2015, there were 72 different types of fuel-efficient cars on the market up from just 59 in 2014. Back in 2008 there were just seven fuel-efficient cars available."

So which fuel-efficient models are proving the most popular among modern car buyers? The NTC has ranked the biggest sellers of 2015, potentially providing fleet managers with a few new ideas when the time comes to upgrading their vehicles.

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius was by far the most in-demand fuel-efficient car last year, selling over 9,000 units. This compared with 4,839 vehicles sold for the second-place Audi A3. The Japanese manufacturer is Australia's favourite brand, with Toyota constituting 17.1% of all vehicles purchases in March, according to Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) data. 

Audi A3

Audi A3 sales, which included the A3 sportback model, failed to scale the heights of the Toyota Prius, but established a solid presence in the market nonetheless. This is particularly impressive considering Volkswagen, Audi's parent company, didn't break into the top five manufacturers in terms of sales in Australia last month.

Mazda 2

Mazda is Australia's second most sought-after automaker, securing nearly one-in-ten vehicle sales in the FCAI's March figures. In fact, the Mazda 3 was the fourth highest-selling car in Australia last month. Meanwhile, the NTC said the fuel-efficient Mazda 2, which is available in hatch and sedan models, sold 3,685 units in 2015.

Green car sales in Australia. Fuel-efficient cars are becoming more popular in Australia.

The top five most popular fuel-efficient cars was rounded out with the Mini Cooper and the Lexus CT200H, which sold 3,204 and 2,484 models respectively. The Mitsubishi Outlander came sixth with 2,383 purchases.

As the federal government looks to revolutionise current vehicles emission regulations, will fuel-efficiency become increasingly important to fleet managers?