Car makers like VW should come clean on fuel efficiency

The Volkswagen emissions scandal is just one symptom of a flawed system.

Australia: dumping ground for dirty vehicles?

CHOICE is calling on carmakers to stop fudging the facts on fuel efficiency and emissions testing and putting the onus on the Australian Government to demand reliable information.

In the wake of Volkswagen's admission that it rigged emissions tests on more than 11 million vehicles worldwide, we're calling for car makers to come clean.

Our research suggests that a fuel efficiency rating for a motor vehicle is more of a marketing ploy than a statement of fact. It doesn't help that such ratings are based on laboratory tests that don't appear to replicate real-world usage.

In our road tests of 21 people movers and SUVs over the past three years, cars guzzled 13% more fuel on average per 100km than the car makers claimed. And when it came to luxury SUVs, the gap between fuel efficiency claims and reality on the road widened to more than 30%.

Over a year, such discrepancies can add up to hundreds of dollars in extra fuel costs for consumers.

Click here to join our Come Clean campaign.

Come Clean: our four-step program

  1. VW and other major car manufacturers must reveal how many Australians are affected by the scandal and offer a solution.
  2. The Australian Government must demand – and ensure – genuinely independent tests for cars sold in Australia.
  3. Testing procedures must close the growing gap between laboratory and 'real world' performance.
  4. Australia must adopt compulsory standards for vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse emissions so we don't become a dumping ground for dirty, expensive-to-run vehicles.

Self-regulation runs its course

The lesson of the recent VW scandal is hard to miss: car makers can't be trust to self-regulate.

The car industry's stock explanation for rubbery efficiency ratings is that real-world tests are different than laboratory ones. But how different is different? Recent research out of Europe shows the gap between car makers' claims and real-world performance is now at 40% and growing.

That puts Australia at particular risk, since it's the only advanced economy with no compulsory standards for vehicle fuel efficiency or greenhouse emissions. In 2012, our average greenhouse emissions from new vehicles were 44% higher than Europe's.

It's simple – CHOICE thinks you should be able to trust car makers' fuel efficiency claims. Join our campaign and call on VW and the Australian Government to act now.