Emission standards

As a result of tougher vehicle emission standards for new cars and trucks and enhanced fuel quality standards, emissions from motor transport are expected to decline. This will continue the trend over the last 30 years which has resulted in cleaner and more fuel efficient cars and trucks on our roads.

Fuel standards

As vehicle emissions control technology becomes more sophisticated, the quality of the fuels is critical. The Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 provides the legislative framework for the Australian Government in setting the national fuel quality and fuel quality information standards. This Act is managed by the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

Fuel quality standards have been made for the following fuel types:

Standards for petrol, diesel, LPG and biodiesel address fuel properties that are considered important in facilitating the adoption of emerging vehicle engine and emission control technologies and managing levels of pollutants that are identified as posing health and environmental problems (source: Department of Infrastructure and Transport).

Further to this, a fuel quality information standard has been made for:

Reducing sulphur

Reducing the sulphur content of fuel reduces fine particle pollution and also allows the use of exhaust after treatment devices. The use of high technology low emission engines also reduces fine particle pollution.

An overview of fuel standards in Australia

Determination Year and reduction in sulphur levels - parts per million (ppm)
Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001 2003 – Sulphur levels in diesel fuel were limited to 500ppm.
Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001 2003 – Sulphur levels were reduced to 50ppm.
Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001 2009 – Sulphur levels were further reduced to 10ppm.
Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001 2002 – Sulphur levels in unleaded fuel were reduced to 500ppm.
Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001 2005 – Sulphur levels were reduced to 150ppm.
Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001 2008 – Sulphur levels were reduced to 50ppm for premium unleaded petrol only.

For further information about fuel quality standards, please visit the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

Vehicle emission standards

Australia has improved the emissions performance of new vehicles by promoting the adoption of more stringent fuel and emission standards. Since the early 1970’s, these standards have progressively tightened. The current standards reflect Australia's commitment to harmonise with the vehicle standards developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

The links below provide summaries of the emission limits which apply for light and heavy vehicles and their timetable for adoption in the Australian Design Rules (ADR’s). The ADRs are performance standards which specify the maximum levels of emissions permitted under a specified test. The ADRs do not mandate the use of any particular technology, although it has been necessary for vehicle manufacturers to fit catalytic converters and other related technologies to light petrol vehicles in order to meet the emission limits introduced by ADR 37/00 and later standards (source: Department of Infrastructure and Transport).

Further information about emission standards for light petrol, diesel and heavy vehicles can be found on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website.

Australian design rules (emission standards)

An overview of the Australian Design Rules for new light and heavy vehicles (PDF) on the Australian market.

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