Information on Green Vehicle Guide Ratings
 and Measurement

Before a road vehicle can be registered for the first time in Australia it must comply with the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. The Act applies to new and used imported vehicles and locally manufactured vehicles. The Act requires vehicles to meet national standards covering safety and environmental requirements. The national standards are known as the Australian Design Rules (ADRs).

The vehicle ratings displayed in the Green Vehicle Guide (GVG) are based on the results of testing conducted in accordance with the ADRs for emissions and fuel consumption labelling. Testing is conducted on all light vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes made available in Australia.

Australian vehicle emission standards largely reflect international standards developed by the United Nations. These standards are adopted in Europe and many other countries around the world, and are known as the "Euro" standards.

The ADR compliance information used in the GVG is supplied directly by vehicle manufacturers.

Note: The Ratings are based on tailpipe emissions. Like any manufactured product, motor vehicles can have other impacts on the environment. For example the vehicle manufacturing process and the level of recyclability of vehicle components can impact on the environment, as can emissions from the refining of different fuels. These elements have not been factored into the Green Vehicle Guide ratings as it is not possible to provide objective numerical values for these factors at an individual vehicle level.

How the Green Vehicle Guide ratings are derived
How Vehicles are Categorised
About the Testing Procedure

How the Green Vehicle Guide ratings are derived

Air Pollution Rating

The Air Pollution Rating is based on the level of air pollutant emissions allowable under the standard to which the particular vehicle has been successfully tested to for supply to the Australian market.

Under the emission standards, vehicles fuelled by petrol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or natural gas (NG) vehicles are required to meet limits for the emission of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). In addition to these pollutants, diesel vehicles must also meet a limit for the emission of particulate matter (PM). The Air Pollution Ratings also take into account the relative health impact of each of these pollutants.

Under the emission standards, the emission limits applicable to a particular vehicle vary according to the mass of the vehicle, its fuel type and whether it is a passenger or goods carrying vehicle.

The current Australian standard for light vehicles, ADR79/02 Emissions Control for Light Vehicles, adopts the international standard developed by the United Nations commonly referred to as Euro 4. The more stringent UN standard (Euro 4) began to come into effect in Australia from 2006 for diesels and from mid-2008 for petrol vehicles. Because the Air Pollution Ratings for a vehicle is derived from the emission standard to which it has been certified in Australia, the Green Vehicle Guide provides the capacity to identify vehicles with advanced air pollution performance. It should be noted, however, that some vehicle models may be certified to a different emission standard in other countries. The decision to certify a vehicle to the minimum standard only in Australia or to a more stringent standard, is at the discretion of individual vehicle manufacturers.

A standard petrol engined passenger car meeting the current emission standard receives a mid-point air pollution rating (5/10) on the Green Vehicle Guide.

The former air pollution rating scale (Stage 1), which was based on ADR79/00 (Euro 2) being the minimum standard, ceased to apply at the end of 2005. A new rating scale (Stage 2) applies from 1 January 2006 to reflect the application of more stringent (Euro 3) minimum standards for light vehicles under ADR79/01. The ratings will be reviewed in 2010 to reflect the full implementation of Euro 4 by July 2010.

A detailed breakdown is provided to show how ratings were applied under Stage 1 Air Pollution Ratings (PDF: 429KB) and now apply under Stage 2 Air Pollution Ratings (PDF: 433KB)

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Greenhouse Rating

The main greenhouse gas emitted by motor vehicles is carbon dioxide (CO2). The level of CO2 emissions is linked to the amount of fuel consumed by the vehicle, and the type of fuel used. All new vehicle models up to 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass sold in Australia are tested to determine both the fuel consumption and the level of CO2 emissions. This information is displayed on a Fuel Consumption Label attached to the windscreen of new vehicles. You can view more information on the Fuel Consumption Label here. Further information on fuel quality requirements is available from the Department of the Environment. The CO2 emissions value is used to derive the greenhouse rating of a vehicle as illustrated in the table below.

Greenhouse Rating CO2 Emissions
(combined g/km)
Greenhouse Rating CO2 Emissions
(combined g/km)
<= 60 241 - 260
61 - 80 261 - 280
81 - 100 281 - 300
101 - 120 301 - 320
121 - 140 321 - 340
141 - 160 341 - 360
161 - 180 361 - 380
181 - 200 381 - 400
201 - 220 401 - 420
221 - 240 421 - 440

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Overall Star Rating

The Overall Rating is based on the sum of the air pollution and greenhouse ratings. Equal weighting is given to both these ratings to arrive at a combined GVG rating (out of 20), which then is translated into the star rating (as shown in the table below).

Overall Rating Combined Air Pollution & Greenhouse Score
combined score >= 16
15 <= combined score < 16
14 <= combined score < 15
11.5 <= combined score < 14
9.5 <= combined score < 11.5
8 <= combined score < 9.5
6.5 <= combined score < 8
5 <= combined score < 6.5
combined score < 5

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Fuel Consumption

The fuel consumption figures quoted in the GVG in litres/100km are derived from ADR81/02 Fuel Consumption Labelling for Light Vehicles. Fuel consumption is measured in accordance with defined procedures and ADR 81/02 requires that a fuel consumption label is affixed to the windscreens of new vehicles prior to their first supply to the market.

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How Vehicles are Categorised

Vehicles are categorised into Vehicle Classes based on their functionality to enable easy searching, as follows:

  • 2-seater cars
  • Small cars
  • Medium cars
  • Large cars
  • 6+ seats
  • Offroad vehicles
  • Utes and light trucks
  • Vans

These classes are based on information required under the ADRs, including:

  • whether the vehicle is for carrying passengers or goods;
  • whether the vehicle is an offroad vehicle under the ADRs;
  • the body style;
  • the number of seats; and
  • for passenger vehicles, their size (small, medium, large) based on the plan area of the vehicle (length x width, excluding mirrors).

Some vehicles (eg. those which could be used for a number of functions) will appear in more than one Vehicle Class. For example, a people mover with 7 seats will appear in a passenger car class as well as the class for vehicles with 6 or more seats.

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About the Testing Procedure

All vehicles are tested to the same test procedure (drive cycle) under carefully controlled conditions in specialised vehicle emission laboratories. The test methods used for determining exhaust emissions and fuel consumption are specified in the ADRs. The same drive cycle is used for determining air pollutant emissions, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. The ADRs adopt the test methods from the United Nations ECE Regulations (ECE R83 and ECE R101).

As the results displayed in the GVG are based on a standardised drive cycle, different vehicle models can be compared with confidence. However, no test can simulate all possible combinations of conditions that may be experienced on the road. Real world emissions and fuel consumption may vary from the results provided in the Green Vehicle Guide, depending upon a number of factors including driving and road conditions, driver behaviour and the condition of the vehicle.

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