Australian new cars record their lowest-ever carbon-dioxide emissions thanks to significant improvements in vehicle technology.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says the National Average Carbon Emission figure last year was 212.6 g/km, down 2.7% from 2009’s 218.6 g/km.

All new passenger cars, SUVs and light-commercial pickups, vans and buses up to 3.9 tons (3.5 t) are included in calculating the NACE figure.

The FCAI says this means the figure includes CO2 emissions for many more vehicle types than measured in other parts of the world, including Europe.

“This is one of the most significant yearly improvements in the NACE figure and demonstrates the industry’s commitment to continue to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions,” FCAI CEO Andrew McKellar says in a statement.

“The result is a combination of improvements in vehicle technology and a change in consumer buying preferences,” he says.

McKellar says there has been a strong uptake in new-generation diesel vehicles and hybrids, as well as constant updates to the traditional gasoline engine.

“The segment to record the best improvement was SUVs, highlighting the significant (work) being done to improve efficiency without having to compromise on size,” he says.

“Carbon-dioxide emissions from new vehicles have been reduced significantly without regulation, and the industry now looks forward to working constructively with the federal government in developing a new standard.”