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9309.0 - Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, Mar 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/11/2003   
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NOTES

ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication presents statistics relating to vehicles which were registered at 31 March 2003 with a motor vehicle registration authority. Motor vehicle registration statistics are compiled from data made available by various state and territory motor vehicle registration authorities and reflect the information as recorded in registration documents.

Estimates of the size and composition of the vehicle fleet were first published in 1921. However, it is only since 1971 that a Motor Vehicle Census (MVC) has been conducted on a more regular basis. The MVC has not been conducted in each and every year since 1971 and the census dates have varied over those years. Therefore, care should be taken when attempting to compare movements over the years.

Statistics are provided on vehicle types comprising passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, all types of trucks, buses and motor cycles.

Vehicle characteristic information includes make of vehicle, year of manufacture, type of fuel that the vehicle was manufactured to use; and for trucks, Gross Vehicle Mass or Gross Combination Mass. The size of the motor vehicle fleet is also compared with the estimated resident population.

Changes in this publication

Data at the statistical division level have been introduced into this publication for the first time. These have been concorded from postcode of owner data and provide information on the regional distribution and characteristics of the motor vehicle fleet.


MAIN FEATURES

TOTAL NUMBER OF VEHICLES ON REGISTER

There were 13.2 million motor vehicles including motor cycles registered in Australia at 31 March 2003. This represents an increase of 25% since the 1993 Motor Vehicle Census (MVC), when there were 10.5 million vehicles registered in Australia. The average annual growth over this 10 year period was 2.3%.

VEHICLE TYPE (1993-2003)(a), Australia
1993
2003
change
no.
no.
%

Passenger vehicles
8,279,408
10,365,941
25.2
Light commercial vehicles
1,453,762
1,879,755
29.3
Rigid trucks
336,490
348,673
3.6
Articulated trucks
52,498
64,261
22.4
Non-freight carrying trucks
46,568
56,936
22.3
Buses
46,611
70,122
50.4
Motor cycles
288,813
377,271
30.6
Total motor vehicles
10,504,150
13,162,959
25.3

(a) Campervans are included with non-freight carrying trucks.

The passenger vehicle fleet has grown from 8.3 million in 1993 to 10.4 million in 2003, an increase of 25%. The number of buses rose to 70,122, representing a 50% increase over the past decade. During the same time period, the number of motor cycles grew by 31% to 377,271.

Articulated trucks rose by 22% to 64,261. Rigid trucks had the smallest growth over the 10 year period increasing by 3.6% to 348,673.


STATES AND TERRITORIES

New South Wales had the largest share of the Australian fleet with 3.9 million vehicles (30% of the total) registered, followed by Victoria with 3.5 million (27%) and Queensland with 2.6 million (19%). The Northern Territory had the smallest share with 0.1 million vehicles (0.8%) registered. State shares of the national fleet have remained relatively stable since 1993.

As can be seen in the following graph, from 1993 to 2003, two states experienced growth above the national average of 25%. The motor vehicle fleet in Queensland showed the most growth with a 38% increase or an average annual growth of 3.3%. The fleet in Western Australia increased by 29% or by an average annual growth of 2.6%. Tasmania showed the least growth in fleet size since 1993 with an increase of 8.5% in the number of vehicles registered and an average annual growth of 0.8%.

Graph - Percentage change in motor vehicle registrations (1993-2003) for each state/territory and Australia.


VEHICLES AND RESIDENT POPULATION

The ratio of motor vehicles registered to the estimated resident population (ERP) has been increasing consistently over the last 32 years. There were 398 vehicles per 1,000 residents in 1971 and 595 vehicles per 1,000 residents in 1993. This compare to 662 motor vehicles per 1,000 residents in Australia in 2003.

The average annual growth in the motor vehicle fleet over the 32 year period from 1971 to 2003 was 3.0%, while ERP over the same period had an average annual growth of only 1.3%.
Graph - Motor vehicle fleet and estimated resident population for 1971, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003.


AVERAGE AGE OF THE FLEET

The average age of all vehicles registered in Australia at 31 March 2003 was 10.4 years. This is slightly younger than the 10.6 years recorded in the 1999 MVC. Sixty-four percent of the total Australian fleet was manufactured after 1990.

Campervans were the oldest vehicles registered with an average age of 18.9 years, while motor cycles were the youngest vehicle type with an average age of 9.9 years.

The average age of passenger vehicles dropped from 10.3 years in 1999 to 10.1 years in 2003, with 66% of passenger vehicles manufactured after 1990.

Graph - estimated average vehicle age by vehicle type for Census years 1999 and 2003.


Tasmania had the oldest fleet with an average age of 12.4 years and with 53% of vehicles manufactured after 1990. This was followed by South Australia with an average age of 11.8 years and 57% manufactured after 1990. The youngest fleet in Australia belonged to the Northern Territory, with an average age of 9.3 years and 70% manufactured after 1990.


FUEL TYPE

There were 9.4 million vehicles (72% of the total vehicle fleet) manufactured to use unleaded petrol while 2.2 million vehicles (17%) were manufactured to use leaded petrol. In contrast, in 1999, there were 7.4 million vehicles (60%) manufactured to use unleaded petrol and 3.6 million vehicles (29%) manufactured to use leaded petrol. This represents an increase of 28% in unleaded petrol vehicles and a decrease of 39% in leaded petrol vehicles since 1999.
Graph - Motor vehicle fleet by fuel type for Census years 1999 and 2003.

In 2003, the Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of vehicles (78%) manufactured to use unleaded petrol. Consistent with their older fleet, Tasmania had the highest proportion of vehicles manufactured to use leaded petrol.

Passenger vehicles comprised 87% of motor vehicles that were manufactured to use unleaded petrol and 76% of vehicles manufactured to use leaded petrol.

The number of vehicles manufactured to use diesel fuel made up 9.3% (or 1.2 million vehicles) of the total fleet, representing an increase of 20% since the 1999 MVC. Diesel vehicles were most prominent in the Northern Territory with 24% of the fleet manufactured to use this fuel type. The Australian Capital Territory had the smallest proportion of diesel vehicles with 3.8%.

Light commercial vehicles made up 41% of vehicles manufactured to use diesel fuel, while rigid and articulated trucks accounted for 24% and 5.0% respectively. Passenger vehicles manufactured to use diesel fuel increased by 29% since the 1999 MVC, and represented 24% of all diesel vehicles in 2003.


CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FLEET

Passenger Vehicles

The number of passenger vehicles has grown 7.0% to 10.4 million since 1999. Queensland had the highest growth with an increase of 10%, while the Northern Territory showed the least growth, rising by 1.1%.

Passenger vehicles accounted for 79% of all vehicles registered in Australia in 2003. The state/territory with the largest proportion of passenger vehicles was the Australian Capital Territory with 86%, while the Northern Territory had the smallest share with 65%.

A total of 5.8 million passenger vehicles were either Ford, Holden, or Toyota. Respectively, these three makes accounted for 19%, 19% and 18% of the total passenger vehicle fleet registered at 31 March 2003.

Kia recorded the highest growth of all passenger vehicle makes since 1999, with an average annual growth of 35%. Other new makes that recorded high average annual growths were Lexus (17%), Audi (12%), Proton (11%) and Daewoo (11%). These high average annual growths should be considered in terms of the low number of vehicles from which they were derived.

Other Vehicle Types

Since 1999, light commercial vehicles have grown by 9.2%, light rigid trucks have increased by 7.1%, while heavy rigids have decreased by 1.2%. Articulated trucks rose by 1.5% over this same period.
Graph - Percentage change in vehicle type (1999-2003).


While the total number of heavy rigid trucks registered in Australia has decreased since 1999, the gross vehicle mass (GVM) of heavy rigid trucks reveals that there were changes within the heavy rigid fleet. The number of registrations for the heaviest rigid trucks (those with a GVM greater than 20 tonnes) has increased by 12% since 1999, while registrations for heavy rigid trucks with a GVM of less than 20 tonnes have decreased over the same period.

Articulated trucks with a gross combination mass (GCM) of between 40 and 60 tonnes accounted for 49% of the total. The largest growth since 2002 in the GCM of articulated trucks was in the 60 to 100 tonnes range with a 15% increase, while the largest decline was in the 20 to 40 tonnage GCM with a 9.1% decrease.

Queensland had the largest share of the heaviest articulated trucks, accounting for 54% of all articulated trucks registered in Australia with a GCM over 100 tonnes.

Statistical Divisions

Capital city statistical divisions (SD) had the largest share of their respective state/territory fleet. With 2.40 million motor vehicle registrations, Melbourne was the SD with the largest fleet, followed closely by Sydney with 2.37 million.

Queensland and Tasmania were the only states where there were less vehicles registered in the capital city SD than there were in the rest of the state.
Graph - Total motor vehicles, Capital city statistical division and Balance of state.


Darwin and Greater Hobart were the only capital city SDs where the number of passenger vehicle registrations was less than 80% of the capital city SD fleet.

Typically, the larger the distance from the capital city, the smaller the proportion of passenger vehicles in the fleet of a SD, and the larger the proportion of light commercial vehicles and trucks. For example, in the Central West SD of Queensland, passenger vehicles made up 47% of the fleet, while 38% were light commercial vehicles, and 11% were trucks. In contrast, 75% of the fleet in the Brisbane SD were passenger vehicles, 17% were light commercial vehicles, and 2.8% were trucks.

Capital city SDs had the largest share of vehicles manufactured to use unleaded petrol for all states and territories. Generally, as SDs become more regional, the higher the proportion of vehicles manufactured to use leaded and diesel fuel. For example, in New South Wales 83% of vehicles in the Sydney SD were manufactured to use unleaded petrol, compared to 68% in the Mid-North Coast SD and 60% in the North Western SD. Conversely, 5.4% of the Sydney SD were manufactured to use diesel fuel, while 13% and 23% of vehicles in the Mid-North Coast and North Western SDs respectively were diesel vehicles.

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