Vehicle emissions standards

2 minute read

The tailpipe emissions from new cars in Australia are subject to a range of controls and regulations. There are two types of emissions that impact on the environment, air quality and human health.

Greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle exhausts, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), trap heat from the sun, causing the ‘greenhouse effect’ and climate change.

Noxious emissions from vehicle exhausts, such as carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs, such as hydrocarbons), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) are harmful to human health and can cause smog. 

The Vehicle Emissions Star Rating (VESR) is based solely on CO2 emissions from vehicle exhausts. 

More information on the vehicle emissions standards that apply in Australia can be found at:

Vehicle emission standards | Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

New Vehicle Efficiency Standards

A New Vehicle Efficiency Standard (NVES) will incentivise car companies to supply new cars that use less fuel per kilometre. Under a NVES, each vehicle manufacturer has a set average CO2 target for the vehicles they produce, which they must meet or beat. Over time, the CO2 target is lowered. In order to continue to meet or beat the target, suppliers can still sell any vehicle they like, but will need to provide more choices of fuel-efficient, low or zero emission vehicles. The Australian Government is currently consulting on the design of a NVES. You can have your say on its design at

Noxious emissions standards

Australia has had noxious emission standards since the early 1970s. These standards set maximum limits for noxious emissions from vehicle exhausts for new road vehicles supplied to Australia and have been progressively tightened over the past 40 years. 

The new Euro 6 standards for light vehicles recently announced by the Australian Government will apply to newly approved light vehicle models supplied from 1 December 2025 and all new light vehicles supplied to the Australian market on or after 1 July 2028.


Australian Government


February 29, 2024

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