Car brands will feel the heat
CAR makers will come under increasing scrutiny over vehicle emissions in the coming months as consumer groups and the Federal Government take a closer look at how fuel consumption and emissions figures are calculated.
A newly formed ministerial forum held a meeting with the car industry and other interested parties in Sydney this week to look at ways of limiting “harmful motor vehicle emissions”.
Industry heavyweights present at the meeting included Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner and representatives from Nissan, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, BMW and Volkswagen.
Government ministers were Paul Fletcher (Major Projects), Greg Hunt (Environment) and Josh Frydenberg (Energy and Resources).
The day before the meeting, the Australian Automobile Association launched its preemptive strike against the car industry.
The AAA, representing nearly eight million motorists, announced it would test 30 new cars sold locally over an 18month period.
The testing will be done in response to the Volkswagen scandal that caused 11 million vehicles to be recalled globally to remedy software that could cheat laboratory tests. Since then motoring bodies internationally have called for better real-world testing of emissions to replace laboratory testing.
Chief executive Michael Bradley says the AAA is “very concerned that the government currently has no capacity to test, audit, or enforce elements of its current vehicle emissions regulatory regimen”.
The debate about Australia’s current vehicle emission standards, he says, “risks being rendered meaningless unless a more relevant testing regimen is put in place”.
“The Volkswagen scandal,” he says, “clearly shows that regulators across the globe now need to be assessing the emissions produced by vehicles in the real-world, not just those produced in a laboratory.”
Minister Fletcher welcomes the AAA’s involvement.
“I look forward to ongoing discussions with a range of stakeholders around vehicle emissions and testing, including the AAA who are a participant in our stakeholder sessions,” he says.
The AAA tests, to cost an estimated $500,000 over 18 months, will mirror those conducted by similar bodies overseas, although the priority will be on models sold here.
The analysis will be done by an independent testing firm in Melbourne which to date has specialised in heavy vehicle emissions.
The motorists’ body says it is vital that car buyers can trust the fuel economy and pollution ratings on showroom labels.
It aims to acquire cars independently, rather than borrow them from makers, so they are indicative of what the public buys.
The testing will also use fuel bought at a service station, not special “laboratory fuel”.
AAA technical expert Craig Newland says: “Overseas governments have started doing real driving emissions tests … because they recognise the lab tests don’t tell you everything.
“Our concern is there are some vehicles that are sold in Australia that are not sold overseas, and we need ... to assess those properly.”
A government working group will review existing emissions testing arrangements to make sure they are robust as well as examining implementation of tougher Euro6 standards.
The group will report to ministers by June 30, then draft a plan by March 2017.
Review: VW scandal prompted motoring groups; Major Projects Minister Paul Fletcher