The Canberra-based Australian Automobile Association (AAA – the summit group of motoring organisations like the NRMA in NSW, RAC in Queensland, Vic, WA and Tasmania) has been conducting on-road exhaust emissions and fuel consumption tests and the results are significantly higher than those obtained in official laboratory tests - which produce the fuel consumption stickers affixed to the windscreens of new cars.
In fact, the AAA claims its tests – of a very small sample of just 17 vehicles - are showing figures for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption on average 25 percent higher, and in the worst example 60 percent higher, than the data supplied by Federal Government agencies.
In some cases that meant noxious gas emissions up to eight times over the legal limit.
The AAA launched its on-road test program following Volkswagen’s ‘dieselgate’ scandal in which the German giant was found to have fitted cars with ‘defeat’ devices which detected when a car was being tested in a laboratory and altered the engine management system to produce a performance which achieved required emissions and fuel consumption outcomes.
While the AAA used its test results to take aim at the Federal Government, to be fair Australia’s current test protocols are identical to other countries. And major European nations are already looking to change things to offer advice to consumers based on real-world driving rather than laboratory testing – a move which is sure to be repeated here.
The AAA has also given the Federal Government an uppercut on a proposal to ban regular unleaded petrol in 2020 (switching to cleaner-burning premium unleaded).
According to the AAA, regular unleaded is used by around 70 percent of Australian motorists, and with the premium blend costing up to 16 cents more per litre, average households would pay $13 more to fill the tank of their car and this equates to an extra $423 per year.
Meanwhile in NSW, Gladys Berejiklian’s Government is again pushing the barrow of more ethanol-blended fuel.
We suspect most Australians would swap all of this complexity for serious Government intervention to eradicate the unjustifiable fuel pump price hikes for long weekend and school holidays. On the Thursday before the recent Labour Day holiday in Melbourne (9 March) radio 3AW reported the price of fuel at a service station in suburban Mount Waverley had risen by 20 cents per-litre within one hour, but no new fuel had been delivered to the station’s tanks.