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Australia?s very own Green Wheels

The Peugeot 207 XT HDi turbodiesel, part of the Low Emission Vehicle partnership.

New-car buyers are slowly warming to a website that allows them to assess the greenhouse emissions of all the latest models sold in Australia.

The Green Wheels site has taken 14,000 hits in its first few weeks online and momentum is building.

The joint initiative of Future Climate Australia, the RACV and EPA Victoria, ranks vehicles by their greenhouse-gas emissions and provides information about technologies and fuels and how these affect climate change.

Not surprisingly, the Honda Civic and Toyota Prius hybrids perform well, but even light cars such as the Honda Jazz, Mitsubishi Colt and diesels such as the Peugeot 207 HDi rank highly, too.

Future Climate Australia executive director Henry O'Clery says response has been good.

“It's slowly getting under way, but once word spreads I'm sure it will snowball,” he says. “At present most people don't know it exists.”

O'Clery says that though passenger vehicles contribute only about 8 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions in Australia, a concerted effort to reduce emissions is crucial across all industry sectors.

“In ratifying the Kyoto protocol, Australia has signalled its intention to get serious about greenhouse-gas emissions,” he says.

Australia's average emission rating for new cars sold in 2006 was 230g a kilometre. In Europe it was 161g.

“Clearly the market is out of control so we have a long way to go with getting this increasingly critical message about reducing emissions, whether its to the public or fleet managers,” he says.

The website provides a guide to the best-performing cars and includes small, medium, and large cars, off-roaders, utes and light trucks.

Vehicles in each class whose emissions ratings come within 25 per cent of the best performer in that class are illustrated with a low-emission-vehicle green tick, specially well-performing vehicles are clearly flagged.

Green Wheels is easy to use and in three simple steps shows users how to select a vehicle that complements their lifestyle needs without excessive greenhouse impact,” he says.

O'Clery says the involvement of key players including vehicle manufacturers and other stakeholders in the Green Wheels umbrella body, the Low Emission Vehicle partnership, demonstrates the strong level of support.

Toyota, Honda, Peugeot, Renault, Holden, Shell, Michelin, VicRoads, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, the VACC and the Committee for Melbourne are behind it.