Skip to main content

Your vehicle could be using almost 60 per cent more fuel than its advertised manufacturer rate, according to new research from the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).

The study found that many emissions outputs were significantly higher in real-world driving conditions than what was found in controlled laboratory conditions. And the news was particularly bad for one particular hybrid model.

“One plug-in hybrid electric car tested used more than four times the fuel consumed in its lab test,” the report said.

“Clearly the hybrid’s fuel saving technologies had a much greater benefit in the 20 minute lab test than in a longer drive through the real world.”

As part of the project, 30 cars were tested on a 90-minute real-world circuit that was divided equally into urban, rural and highway conditions. The tests were conducted according to European Commission protocols, and adapted accordingly for Australian driving conditions and speed limits.

On average the tests revealed that average fuel consumption was 23 per cent higher than the lab test, with one car found to be using 59 per cent more. Of the 12 diesel vehicles tested, 11 did not achieve the regulated limit for NOx gas.

The startling figures suggest a need for the Australian industry to understand the benefit of testing beyond the laboratory.

“Real world testing is urgently needed in the Australian car market to ensure consumers and policy makers are basing decisions on real-world performance,” the AAA said.

“Australians are already struggling with cost of living pressures; without better information on the real performance of new cars, they will continue to pay more for fuel and technology than they need to.”

The AAA is calling on the Australian government to force manufacturers to complete real-world emissions testing on all new vehicles. Such testing is already in place for light vehicles within Europe, while the USA completes similar tests on its heavy vehicles.

From an economic perspective, it is thought that such testing could be brought to Australia for less than a cup of coffee per vehicle, further justifying the need for parliamentary action.

“For less than $3 per new vehicle sold in Australia, within two years, Australian consumers could have access to real-world testing information for 60% of new cars available on the Australian market.”

“This is a very low-cost way to empower Australians to make better informed choices that suit their family budget, health, and their concern for the environment.”

To see more information about the Real World project from the Australian Automobile Association, click here.