Vehicle emissions game – is it rigged?

Cars labelled as environmentally friendly and fuel efficient may be anything but, with real world testing of a range of new cars found the vehicles are using up to 59 percent more fuel and emitting seven times the legal limit of noxious gases than indicated by laboratory-only fuels.

Real world emissions testing

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA), which represented the nation’s motoring organisations including RACQ, today launched its campaign calling for the Federal Government to urgently introduce real-world emission testing for new cars and make the data available to the public.

In the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, the AAA tested 30 vehicles to quantify the difference between their results in standard laboratory testing, and the actual emissions produced in the real world, with a range of large, small, hybrid, petrol, LPG and diesel vehicles selected to reflect Australia’s diverse car fleet.

“More stringent emissions laws are meant to reduce pollution and drive down fuel use, however our results suggest such benefits largely occur only in the laboratory,” AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley said.

“Popular cars on the Australian market are using up to 59 per cent more fuel than advertised and emitting more than seven times the legal limit of some noxious emissions. It’s becoming clear that as emissions standards tighten, the gap between laboratory results and real-world results is widening, meaning consumers and the environment are increasingly being ripped off.”

Mr Bradley claimed the results – including one plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that used more than four times the reported fuel consumption – reinforced concerns consumers were increasingly paying for technologies which fail to deliver the benefits in the real world.

“The AAA wants to introduce a real world emissions test program for new cars, modelled on the European standard but modified slightly to take account of Australian conditions, allowing for variations such as higher urban average speeds, lower highway maximum speed, and a warmer climate,” he said.

“Australian motorists have a right to accurate information about fuel consumption and environmental performance when buying a new car. The current system is misleading consumers and regulators. Only real world testing can drive down costs to consumers and deliver meaningful environmental benefit.”