9309.0 - Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, Oct 1999  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/09/1999   
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September 17, 1999
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Australian car numbers up further during 1998

Following a second year of record high new motor vehicle registrations, the total number of motor vehicles registered in Australia continued to increase, according to the 1998 Motor Vehicle Census released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

During the year ended 31 October 1998 the number of registered vehicles increased by 3.4% to 11,737,923, an even faster rate of increase than the 2.3% recorded during the previous year.

Strong growth in registrations occurred in Queensland (4.5%), Western Australia (4.5%), New South Wales (4.2%) and South Australia (4.1%). However, not all States and Territories recorded increases. Tasmania (minus 0.9%) and the Australian Capital Territory (minus 1.2%) each had small drops.

The strongest growth was in articulated trucks (5.0%), buses (4.7%) and non-freight carrying vehicles (4.5%). The number of passenger vehicles increased by 3.5%.

Vehicles per head of population also continued to increase, from 630 to 644 vehicles per 1,000 persons between 1997 and 1998. Western Australia had the highest number of vehicles per 1,000 persons (725) while the Northern Territory had the lowest (538). Australia has a high rate of vehicle ownership compared to other countries.

Interestingly, the average age of the vehicle fleet, which has been increasing steadily over the last two decades, remained unchanged between 1997 and 1998 at 10.7 years. The average age of passenger vehicles recorded a small fall from 10.5 years in 1997 to 10.4 in 1998 as a result of the high level of new registrations. The average age of other types of vehicles either remained steady or increased. There were still many older vehicles on the road - about 1 in 4 vehicles are more than 16 years old. Tasmania had the oldest vehicle fleet (12.3 years), followed by South Australia (12.1 years) and Victoria (11.3 years). The Northern Territory (9.2 years) and New South Wales (9.7 years) had the youngest fleet.

The number of vehicles using fuel types other than petrol continued to increase at a faster rate than the petrol powered fleet. The number of diesel powered vehicles increased by 7.0% and the number of LPG and dual fuel powered vehicles increased by 17.9% compared with a 2.9% increase in petrol powered vehicles. Despite a 9.1% fall in leaded petrol vehicles, there are still more than 4 million leaded petrol vehicles on our roads, about 1 in 3 of all registrations.

Details are in Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 October 1998 (cat. no. 9309.0), available from ABS bookshops. A summary of the publication is available on this site. The ABS encourages media organisations with online news services to link to the summary. Please phone us if you need assistance to do this.