Vehicles were identified using information obtained from state and territory motor vehicle registration authorities as part of the annual ABS Motor Vehicle Census (see Motor Vehicle Census, Australia (cat. no. 9309.0)). The Motor Vehicle Census (MVC) provides a snapshot of registered vehicles at 31 January each year. There were 19.5 million vehicles identified from the MVC at 31 January 2019. These vehicles provided the population of vehicles, or survey frame, for the 2020 Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU).
Scope and coverage
The scope of the survey comprised all vehicles registered with a motor vehicle authority for road use during the 12 months ended 30 June 2020. Not included were caravans, trailers, tractors, plant and equipment, vehicles belonging to the defence services and vehicles with diplomatic or consular plates. Where they were registered as such, vintage and veteran cars were also excluded from the survey. Unregistered vehicles were out of scope.
For the 2020 SMVU, a sample of 16,180 vehicles was selected for inclusion in the survey. The survey sample consisted of passenger vehicles (18.0%), motor cycles (5.0%), freight vehicles (65.9%), buses (8.1%) and non-freight carrying trucks (3.0%). The sample size was chosen to give a suitable level of reliability for estimates of total distance travelled and tonne-kilometres travelled for each state/territory of registration by type of vehicle category over the survey period.
Vehicles were selected for one of three data collection periods, each 4 months in duration.
Owners of vehicles selected in the survey were asked to complete two questionnaires, either paper or web, tailored to their vehicle type. The first, at the beginning of the survey period, asked for selected vehicle characteristics and the vehicle odometer reading. Owners were also advised they would receive a follow up questionnaire at the end of the period, with examples of the main items included. The second questionnaire requested details about the use of the vehicle over the four month period and a second odometer reading.
When questionnaires were returned to the ABS they were checked for completeness and accuracy and, where possible, follow-up contact was made with owners to resolve reporting problems. Where contact with owners could not be made, missing items on incomplete questionnaires were filled by using data from like vehicles for which data were obtained.
Where the selected vehicle owner had not owned the vehicle for the whole four month survey period, the usage details provided for the period of ownership were adjusted to give a four month equivalent. Where the vehicle was deregistered during the four month survey period, only usage up to the date of deregistration was included.
In addition, adjustments were made in the estimation process to account for the use of new motor vehicles registered after the survey population was identified, as well as the re-registration of other vehicles during this time. More information about these adjustments is provided in 'How the data is processed'.
Estimates from information reported in each four month collection period were produced and these were then aggregated into annual estimates relating to the use of vehicles during the period 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.
For this release of the SMVU, the information reported in each four month collection period between 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 and 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 have been individually aggregated to produce sub-annual estimates relating to the use of vehicles. Sub-annual estimates are available in the download tab and cover the following collection periods:
2018 Sub-annual estimates
- 1 July 2017 to 31 October 2017
- 1 November 2017 to 28 February 2018
- 1 March 2018 to 30 June 2018
2020 Sub-annual estimates
- 1 July 2019 to 31 October 2019
- 1 November 2019 to 29 February 2020
- 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020