Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, Australia

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Comprises estimates for private and commercial vehicles registered for road use with a registration authority during the 12 months ending 30 June 2018

Reference period
12 months ended 30 June 2018

Main features

For the 12 months ending 30 June 2018:

  • There were an estimated 19 million motor vehicles
  • In total these vehicles travelled an estimated 255,031 million kilometres at an average of 13.4 thousand kilometres per vehicle
  • Fuel consumed by all road registered vehicles totalled 34,170 megalitres
  • Freight vehicles moved an estimated 214,789 million tonne-kilometres of freight

The Australian vehicle fleet

The total number of registered vehicles comprised:

  • 14,258,620 passenger vehicles (75%)
  • 3,788,395 freight vehicles (19.9%) and
  • 965,755 buses, motor cycles and non-freight carrying trucks (5.1%).

Of the freight vehicles, 84.3% (3,193,651) were light commercial vehicles, 13.1% (495,039) were rigid trucks and 2.6% (99,705) were articulated trucks.

Total kilometres travelled

  • New South Wales motorists drove the furthest, travelling 74,566 million kilometres. Victorian motorists were next and drove a total of 68,030 million kilometres.
  • Northern Territory drivers travelled the least distance, at a total of 2,185 million kilometres.
  • Distance travelled by state and territory aligns closely with the proportion of registered vehicles. New South Wales had the highest proportion of the national fleet (29%) and the largest share of total kilometres travelled (29%). In contrast the Northern Territory reported the smallest proportion of kilometres travelled (1%) and the smallest proportion of registered vehicles (1%).

Average kilometres travelled

  • Victorians drove further on average with the highest average kilometres travelled (14.1 thousand kilometres), followed by Queensland (13.7 thousand kilometres).
  • Both the Victorian and Queensland estimates were above the national average (13.4 thousand kilometres).
  • Vehicles registered in Tasmania reported the lowest average kilometres (12.1 thousand kilometres).

Kilometres travelled by vehicle type

  • Passenger vehicles travelled 179,761 million kilometres, more than any other vehicle type, accounting for 70.5% of total kilometres travelled.
  • Passenger vehicles were mostly driven for personal and other use (54%) followed by travel to and from work (25%) and travel for business purposes (21%).
  • On average passenger vehicles travelled 12.6 thousand kilometres. In comparison, articulated trucks travelled 79.4 thousand kilometres on average, more than any other vehicle type.

Tonne-kilometres travelled

The total freight transported by road was estimated at 214,789 million tonne-kilometres and consisted of:

  • 165,336 million tonne-kilometres by articulated trucks (77.0%)
  • 39,909 million tonne-kilometres by rigid trucks (18.6%), and
  • 9,544 million tonne-kilometres by light commercial vehicles (4.4%).

On average:

  • Articulated trucks moved 1,822.7 thousand tonne-kilometres per vehicle
  • Rigid trucks moved 95.5 thousand tonne-kilometres per vehicle and
  • Light commercial vehicles moved 6.2 thousand tonne-kilometres per vehicle.

Victoria had the highest road freight estimate, transporting 55,450 million tonne-kilometres, followed by Queensland (49,038 million tonne-kilometres), New South Wales (48,709 million tonne-kilometres) and Western Australia (35,953 million tonne-kilometres).

National fuel consumption

  • Petrol remains the predominate type of fuel consumed by the fleet.
  • In total 34,170 megalitres of fuel were consumed, 51.4% petrol and 45.8% diesel.
  • Passenger vehicles consumed 19,486 megalitres of fuel, more than any other vehicle type, of which 80.2% (15,635 megalitres) was petrol.
  • Light commercial vehicles used a total of 6,537 megalitres of fuel. Diesel accounted for 71.4% (4,669 megalitres) and petrol accounted for 26.4% (1,728 megalitres).
  • Of the 7,308 megalitres of fuel consumed by rigid and articulated trucks, diesel accounted for 99.7%.
  • On average, articulated trucks had the highest rate of fuel consumption per vehicle at 55.2 litres per 100 kilometres. In contrast, the average rate of fuel consumption per passenger vehicle was 10.8 litres per 100 kilometres.

Changes to this issue

Fuel consumption question

For the 2018 Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, changes were implemented to the fuel consumption question. This included, improvements to the wording of the fuel consumption question, the addition of a respondent log to record fuel purchases over the survey period and improvements to quality assurance processes for fuel consumption data. The changes have impacted estimates for total and average fuel consumption.

Care should be taken when interpreting the estimates for total fuel consumption and average rate of fuel consumption.

Data downloads

Survey of motor use data downloads

Post release changes

6/9/2022 - This release contains:

Data correction to total diesel consumption for rigid and articulated trucks as a percentage of all fuel consumed by rigid and articulated trucks under the 'National Fuel Consumption' section. No changes were required to the underlying data in the data download.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 9208.0.

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