Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, Australia

This release has ceased

Estimates of; kilometres travelled, tonne-kilometres travelled, tonnes carried and fuel use. Includes sub annual estimates.

Reference period
12 Months ended 30 June 2020

Key statistics

  • 19,768,518 estimated number of vehicles
  • 238,499 million kilometres travelled, an average of 12.1 thousand kilometres per vehicle
  • 33,019 megalitres of fuel consumed
  • 223,949 million tonne-kilometres of freight moved

Final release

This is the final release of the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, Australia.

Sub-annual estimates

This release includes additional sub-annual estimates. These additional estimates have been produced to inform any impacts on vehicle use during the 2019/20 summer bushfires and the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, refer to the article Sub-annual motor vehicle use estimates, July 2019 to June 2020.

Number of vehicles

The Australian fleet of road registered vehicles consisted of:

  • 79.5% passenger carrying vehicles
  • 20.4% freight vehicles
  • 0.1% non-freight carrying trucks

Passenger carrying vehicles were comprised of 93.8% passenger vehicles, 5.7% motor cycles and 0.6% buses.

Freight vehicles were comprised of 84.5% light commercial vehicles, 12.9% rigid trucks and 2.6% articulated trucks.

New South Wales had the highest proportion of the national fleet (29%), with Northern Territory reporting the smallest proportion (1%).

Number of vehicles by type of vehicle
Number of vehiclesPercentage of total
Passenger vehicles14,726,96774.5
Motor cycles893,4844.5
Light commercial vehicles3,412,45917.3
Rigid trucks521,2552.6
Articulated trucks104,4420.5
Non-freight carrying trucks23,5180.1

Kilometres travelled

Total kilometres travelled

  • Total kilometres travelled was 238,499 million kilometres for all vehicles.
  • New South Wales motorists drove the furthest, travelling 69,061 million kilometres, followed by Victorian motorists who drove a total of 63,602 million kilometres.
  • Northern Territory drivers travelled the least distance, a total of 2,022 million kilometres.
  • Distance travelled by state and territory aligns closely with the proportion of registered vehicles.

Average kilometres travelled

  • Average kilometres travelled was 12.1 thousand kilometres for all vehicles
  • Northern Territory vehicles had the highest average kilometres travelled (12.5 thousand kilometres), followed by Victoria (12.4 thousand kilometres)
  • Vehicles registered in Tasmania reported the lowest average kilometres (10.9 thousand kilometres)

Kilometres travelled by vehicle type

Passenger vehicles:

  • Travelled 162,983 million kilometres (more than any other vehicle type)
  • Accounted for 68.3% of total kilometres travelled
  • Travelled 11.1 thousand kilometres on average

Light commercial vehicles, including utilities and goods carrying vans, travelled a total of 52,229 million kilometres.

Articulated trucks travelled 78.3 thousand kilometres on average, this was more than any other vehicle type.

Total kilometres travelled and average kilometres travelled by type of vehicle
Total kilometres travelled (millions)Average kilometres travelled (thousands)
Passenger vehicles162,98311.1
Motor cycles1,6831.9
Light commercial vehicles52,22915.3
Rigid trucks10,97621.1
Articulated trucks8,18178.3
Non-freight carrying trucks32113.7

Tonne-kilometres travelled

The total freight transported by road was estimated at 223,949 million tonne-kilometres and consisted of:

  • 173,236 million tonne-kilometres by articulated trucks, accounting for 77.4% of the total
  • 41,820 million tonne-kilometres by rigid trucks, accounting for 18.7% of the total
  • 8,893 million tonne-kilometres by light commercial vehicles, accounting for 4.0% of the total

On average:

  • Articulated trucks moved 1,835.7 thousand tonne-kilometres per vehicle
  • Rigid trucks moved 94.6 thousand tonne-kilometres per vehicle
  • Light commercial vehicles moved 5.2 thousand tonne-kilometres per vehicle

Victoria had the highest road freight estimate, transporting 59,284 million tonne-kilometres, followed by Queensland (52,833 million tonne-kilometres), New South Wales (51,277 million tonne-kilometres) and Western Australia (34,478 million tonne-kilometres).


Tonne-kilometres (tkm) is the aggregation of the number of tonnes moved multiplied by the distance travelled in kilometres for each individual vehicle carrying freight. Tonne-kilometres are calculated using the laden distance travelled for work purposes and average load weight as reported by the respondent.

Fuel consumption

  • In total 33,019 megalitres of fuel were consumed, 49.0% petrol and 49.1% diesel, the relative usage of diesel has increased to be equal with petrol for the first time
  • Passenger vehicles consumed 18,094 megalitres of fuel, more than any other vehicle type, of which 79.9% (14,455 megalitres) was petrol
  • Light commercial vehicles used a total of 6,678 megalitres of fuel. Diesel accounted for 75.1% (5,014 megalitres) and petrol accounted for 23.6% (1,578 megalitres)
  • Of the 7,480 megalitres of fuel consumed by rigid and articulated trucks, diesel accounted for 99.8%
  • On average, articulated trucks had the highest rate of fuel consumption per vehicle at 53.1 litres per 100 kilometres. In contrast, the average rate of fuel consumption per passenger vehicle was 11.1 litres per 100 kilometres

a. Passenger carrying vehicles include passenger vehicles, motor cycles and buses.
b. Freight carrying vehicles include light commercial vehicles, rigid trucks and articulated trucks. 
Includes non-freight carrying trucks.

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