Your favourite work utes pollute more than Australia’s worst coal mines

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

The Climate Council has accused five “filthy car companies” of producing more carbon pollution than some of the nation’s coal mining giants.

According to the climate-conscious charity, Toyota alone produced more climate pollution in 2023 than 46 of Australia’s largest coal mines, followed closely by other ute manufacturers like FordHyundai and Mitsubishi

How is that even possible? Well, the council says its best-selling fleets of 4WD work utes, like the Toyota Hilux and the Ford Ranger, are responsible, claiming their petrol-guzzling engines contribute to almost two-thirds of transport pollution every year. 

In 2023, the Ford Ranger sold over 60,000 units, followed closely by the Toyota Hilux, which sold 61,111 units, and the Isuzu Ute D-Max, which sold 31,202.

As a result, the companies are collectively responsible for over 1.1 million metric tonnes of the country’s carbon emissions. 

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie says the “filthy five” are getting off “scot-free” because the pollution isn’t being regulated.

“It is no surprise that the ‘Filthy ‘Five’ car companies like Toyota and Mazda have been some of the most vocal critics of regulating vehicle pollution,” she said.

“They’ve used Australia as a dumping ground for their most polluting vehicles for years, while offering more efficient vehicles in countries that have regulation.

“The transport industry needs to pull its weight in cutting climate pollution. That starts with the ‘Filthy Five’ giving Aussies more access to cleaner cars that are cheaper to run.”

Australia’s transport sector is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation, amounting to 21 per cent of national emissions in 2023. 

Since 2005, transport sector greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 19 per cent, and recent government projections predict the industry will be the largest polluter in Australia by 2030.

A costly vehicle emissions tax

Climate Council Head of Advocacy, Dr Jennifer Rayner, also accused the companies of trying to “water down” the recent Vehicle Efficiency Standards, which would set a limit on vehicle emissions in January next year.

 “All of these major car brands have made public commitments to reduce climate pollution from their fleets,” he said.

“It’s hypocritical and dishonest.

“The ‘Filthy Five’ are already selling a wide range of lower and zero emissions cars overseas. 

“We need strong rules now to make them bring these cars to Australia as well, so our new vehicles are no longer competing with coal mines when it comes to how much pollution they pump into our air, our lungs and our climate.”

Despite the damning figures, some industry bodies have opposed the emissions cap, with the Australian Automotive Dealer Association saying the policy “goes too far too fast” and could affect the price and type of vehicles for sale.

In a recent submission to parliament, the Housing Industry Association called for changes to the incoming policy, claiming the added emissions cost would push costs up for Aussie builders.

“For the building industry utes and other light commercial vehicles are the key tool tradies and builders rely on for running and operating their businesses,” read the submission. 

“Any further added costs, complexities or regulatory impediments being layered over the top of our industry at this time will only make their jobs harder and have downstream impacts on housing supply and affordability.”

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.