• motorised travel;
  • fuel efficiency;
  • oil vulnerability


Australian cities have seen continued long-term growth in private motor vehicle travel that has imposed increasing vehicle energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. This paper investigates the spatial patterns of vehicle energy consumption on urban areas through an analysis of vehicle travel and of vehicle fleet efficiency in Brisbane, Australia. This is achieved by combining motor vehicle registration records and Australian government's ‘Green Vehicle Guide’ of vehicle fuel efficiency database. The results of a spatial analysis of the private vehicle trip distances derived from journey to work data and fuel energy consumption associated with the private-owned vehicles decomposed to local areas show that private vehicle energy use tends to increase with increasing distance from the city centre (e.g. central business district). This analysis demonstrates that differences in vehicle trip distances and lower proportions of high-efficiency vehicles in the outer suburbs aggravate vehicle energy consumption in those locations. The paper further compares vehicle energy use results for Brisbane against spatial patterns of suburban socio-economic disadvantage. The paper demonstrates that access to vehicle fleet technology may compound other forms of socio-economic disadvantage and vulnerability.