Vehicle Emission Standards

Australia has had road vehicle emission standards for new vehicles in place since the early 1970s and these have been progressively tightened over the past 40 years. The current standards reflect Australia's commitment to harmonise with the vehicle standards developed by the United Nations wherever possible.

The current minimum standard for new light vehicles in Australia is ADR 79/04, which is based on the Euro 5 standards. The current minimum standard for new heavy vehicles is ADR 80/03, which is based on the Euro V standards, with equivalent US or Japanese standards accepted as alternatives. The Australian Government's Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions is currently undertaking a review to consider whether Australia should adopt the Euro 6 standards for light vehicles and Euro VI standards for heavy vehicles.

Over the last 10 years in particular there have been improvements in a number of air quality indicators, and it is generally accepted that the increasing proportion of vehicles meeting tighter emission standards has played a major part in these air quality improvements.

The tables listed below summarise the emission limits which apply for light and heavy vehicles and their timetable for adoption in the ADRs. 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 particular technology, although it has been necessary for vehicle manufacturers to fit catalytic converters to light petrol and LPG vehicles in order to meet the emission limits introduced by ADR37/00 in the mid 1980's. For light duty diesel vehicles, particulate traps are necessary in most vehicles to meet the very low particle emission limits in the Euro 5 standards adopted in ADR79/03 and ADR79/04.

In-Service Emissions

The regulation of emissions from vehicles once they are on the road (in-service) is the responsibility of the state and territory governments. However, the Australian Government undertaken a number of studies to improve the understanding of emissions performance of the in-service passenger car fleet.

The National In-Service Emission Study (NISE1), published in 1996, is the most comprehensive study of emissions from cars ever undertaken in Australia. It tested over 600 vehicles manufactured between 1980 and 1993 and demonstrated that considerable exhaust emissions benefits could be obtained from regular tuning and maintenance. An update and expansion of this study, NISE 2, covering later model vehicles, was completed in March 2009.

The NISE 1 study also indicated that evaporative emissions from vehicles were, on average, well above the limits mandated in the then applicable standard, Australian Design Rule 37(ADR37). The subsequent Petrol Volatility Project (1997) examined this in more detail and concluded that reducing the volatility of commercial petrol was the most cost effective means to address this problem. States have since set limits on the volatility of summertime petrol supplies.

Vehicle Emission Reports and RISs

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Last Updated: 2 February, 2017