Australian Automobile Association finds fuel use on average 25% higher than claimed on consumption label displayed on new cars
New cars are using vastly more fuel on the road than in laboratory tests, raising further questions about the veracity of car manufacturers’ claims in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
The Australian Automobile Association-commissioned research found fuel use was on average 25% higher than claimed on the government-mandated fuel consumption label displayed on all new cars.
In some cases, they were 60% above the fuel use claimed on the label.
On-road noxious gas emissions from five diesel cars were found to be over the legal limit, in one case by up to eight times.
Two petrol cars were significantly above the limits for carbon monoxide emissions.
The research, conducted by technical consulting firm Abmarc, examined 17 new and commonly available cars in the past 10 months.
The AAA did not name and shame individual manufacturers, but said the cars were selected across brands, vehicle types and fuel types.
The 2015 Volkswagen scandal raised serious concerns about the truth of car manufacturers’ emissions claims. Volkswagen was caught installing software in cars that allowed it to game emissions tests in the United States.
That scandal was uncovered after environmental groups detected discrepancies between real-world emissions and those recorded in tests.
The federal government is currently considering tightening emissions and CO2 standards, effectively moving from the “Euro 5” to “Euro 6” standard.
That would bring Australia in line with international standards following years of lagging behind the European Union and the US.
The AAA is opposed to the government’s standards proposal, saying it will cost motorists without delivering any benefit to the environment.
It last week described the plan as an “uncoordinated process” that had no robust cost-benefit analysis.
The AAA chief executive, Michael Bradley, said the results of its latest testing showed the assumptions underpinning the government’s proposal were flawed.
“These results are bad news for Australian consumers looking for good information on which to base their car-buying decisions,” Bradley said.
“They also place a huge question mark over the fuel and cost-savings the government is offering Australians under its proposals to introduce tougher vehicle emissions restrictions.
“Our test results are a warning to Australians to take the government’s promises of fuel and cost-savings with a grain of salt, and expect those savings to be significantly less than what’s promised.”
A spokesman for the urban infrastructure minister, Paul Fletcher, said it was well known that pollutants emitted in laboratory conditions would generally be lower than on-road driving tests.
He said the way vehicles were tested for emissions was “quite separate” from the current question of whether car emissions should be changed or tightened.
“No decisions have yet been taken – the matter will be considered by cabinet later this year,” the spokesman said.
The cars tested had all driven at least 2,000km but no more than 85,000km, and were 2014 models or newer.
The cars were tested twice, from a cold start and a warm start, and were driven along the same route in Melbourne, which contained urban, extra-urban and freeway driving.
Bradley said the AAA supported reducing emissions and strengthening standards, but said policy must “deliver for the environment at the least cost to motorists and the economy”.
“The AAA and Australia’s motoring clubs again call on the government to update its modelling, undertake further public consultation and introduce real-world driving testing for new vehicles in Australia,” he said.
The federal government allows the use of test results from international laboratories for assessment against Australian standards. The government also audits test results.
The ministerial forum on vehicle emissions is considering how to reduce emissions from Australia’s vehicle fleet. It has released three papers for consultation, including a draft regulation impact statement on new fuel efficiency and noxious emissions standards.
Those impact statements included a cost-benefit analysis of the changes, which considered recent studies on the discrepancies between laboratory-tested and on-road emissions.
To address the discrepancy, the statements recommended adopting the latest standards, which introduce a more representative laboratory test and an on-road driving emissions test.
Cape Town – South Africa is still catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to renewable energy for transport, according to Carel Snyman, the green transport senior manager at the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi).
Snyman was speaking at a session on eco-mobility and the shift to public transport at the South African International Renewable Energy Conference.
“The idea is still that vehicles need to be powered by oil. I know with new programmes like the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) systems it is alternative transport. But this does not address alternative energy use,” he said.
Snyman said when it came to burning energy inside an engine you had major losses in terms of heat.
Normal petrol-driven cars were not very fuel-efficient, with 64 percent of the fuel being used up in heat and only 20 percent going into the actual forward motion.
“The change in South Africa is not being pushed as it should be. But this is why I am happy that we have this first session in South Africa that focuses on renewable energy in transport,” he said.
He added that alternative transport using gas and electricity had been discussed with their partners, so the seed to grow renewable energy in transport in South Africa had been planted.
Sustainable Low Carbon Transport secretary general Cornie Huizenga said countries and cities were starting to regulate the use of cars.
“I live in Xinhua in China where since 1998 you need to bid for the right to drive a car,” he told the conference.
Huizenga said a car licence in Xinhua cost between $7 000 and $8 000 (about R105 000), a fee that generated close to a billion dollars a year.
He added that this type of income generated would be especially useful to further develop the BRT system in Cape Town.
Another issue to focus on was how to sustain a model of public transport in countries that were often under pressure.
“(With) public transport there must also be a focus on reducing the environmental footprint and making it as clean as possible,” he said.
Environmentally friendly electric vehicles were being looked at but Huizenga said this was not the only solution.
Transport contributed more than a quarter of CO2 emissions. Huizenga said this proved that more needed to be done around using renewable energy for transport.