Fuels readily available in Australia for vehicles include petrol, diesel, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and natural gas. Hybrid vehicles using petrol and electricity are also becoming more common.
In a Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that of the total fuel consumed by registered motor vehicles in Australia in the 12 months ended 31 October 2004, 64.1% of fuel was petrol and 30.0% was diesel fuel. Passenger vehicles used 14,882 million litres of petrol of which 94.2% was unleaded petrol. Articulated and rigid trucks used 65.3% of all diesel fuel used.
Advantages of alternative fuels are that they create less vehicle emissions and are usually cheaper to purchase. Disadvantages include higher cost and lower resale value of vehicles using such fuels and potentially higher maintenance and repair costs. Some alternative fuels also may not be readily available in all areas. Before selecting or converting a vehicle it is therefore advisable to check local availability of the fuel type and to complete an analysis of the costs, benefits and drawbacks.
Guide to different fuel types and other aspects of fuel usage and management:
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
LPG is the most commonly used alternative fuel in Australia. When converting a vehicle, the LPG system must be installed by a supplier registered with the Automotive Alternative Fuels Registration Board.
Hybrid vehicles – electricity and petrol
Hybrid vehicles that use both an electric motor and a petrol engine such as the Toyota Prius are now readily available and offer decreased fuel consumption. Although hybrid vehicles are now reasonably priced, their purchase cost is still higher than other equivalent vehicles using petrol only.
Diesel fuel is used for compression ignition diesel engines. It is not commonly used in passenger vehicles in Australia except for Four Wheel Drives. Diesel vehicles are more economical but service and repair costs are higher and they are generally better for driving longer distances. If considering buying a diesel engine vehicle, NRMA advises motorists to obtain a turbo diesel for greater performance. Standards have been implemented in Australia requiring diesel fuel to have low amounts of sulphur to reduce exhaust emissions.
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