Australian cars use more fuel and emit more fumes than advertised, says AAA

Australian Automobile Association says it found fuel consumption is up to 35% higher and emissions up to four times higher than claimed

Australian cars are consuming up to 35% more fuel and emitting four times more noxious gas than their manufacturers claim, according to a new study.

The Australian Automobile Association has released a report saying 10 popular car models used more fuel in real-world tests than in the lab-controlled results on fuel efficiency labels.

The CEO of the AAA, Michael Bradley, is pushing for mandatory on-road testing and says the report is designed to inform two government reviews, as well as the ministerial forum into fuel emissions, which was established shortly after the 2015 European Volkswagon emissions scandal.

The AAA’s report discovered that on average, fuel efficiency labels underestimated fuel consumption by 20%.

“The discrepancy between official figures and the real world fuel consumption figures has been increasing over time, most likely as a result of manufacturers optimising technologies to ensure compliance with their CO2 obligations,” it said.

Bradley told the ABC’s AM: “We’re seeing up to about 35% difference between what the sticker says and what the car actually uses.

“We’re not saying the information being presented is wrong. It’s just that there’s clearly a very big difference between what a car does in a laboratory and when you drive it round on the streets of Melbourne.”

Bradley told AM that the AAA would like to see the Australian system brought into line with international and European standards. Starting from September 2017, the European Union will require on-road testing rather than laboratory conditions.

“What we’re saying to the Australian government is we should be doing real world emission testing in Australia … that’s what consumers deserve.”

The government is considering tightening emissions regulations. An impact statement is due to be released assessing the possibility of a transition to new stricter European standards, known as “Euro 6”. Australia currently uses the “Euro 5” standard, which was introduced in 2009.

The forum into fuel emissions is also due to release a report on 31 March that outlines a draft plan for new measures. Launched at the end of October 2015, the forum accepted submissions from stakeholders until 8 April this year.

A strongly-worded submission from consumer advocacy group Choice advised the government to bring in “stringent real-world testing”.

“Without a reliable standard on emissions … Australia risks becoming a dumping ground for inefficient and dirty cars, costing consumers at the pump,” the report read.

It also noted that 89% of consumers considered fuel efficiency rating an important factor in deciding which make of car to purchase.

A submission from Toyota Australia also revealed the car manufacturer “supports the introduction of Euro 6 emissions standards” and “supports a testing regime which aims to reduce real-world emissions”.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are also conducting a market study into car retail sales and hosting a forum in Melbourne on Tuesday to discuss the accuracy of fuel efficiency labels.

The AAA’s tests were conducted on public roads in Brisbane and Melbourne, in 83 kilometre trips split into one third urban, one third rural and one third freeway.


Naaman Zhou

The GuardianTramp

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