Consumers are being misled about the fuel consumption and environmental impact of new vehicles, according to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).

Real-world tests of a range of new cars in Australia reveal that many vehicles use more fuel and release more emissions than indicated by laboratory tests.

“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,” said AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley. “Popular cars on the Australian market are using up to 59% 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.”

Emissions regulations are currently only policed via a standard laboratory test. However, with a growing recognition that vehicles are optimised for laboratory performance, a number of international jurisdictions are now moving to introduce real world emissions testing to better inform consumers and better enforce environmental regulation.

The AAA is now calling on the Federal Government to introduce a real world emissions test program for new cars.

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