Car brands will feel the heat

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowl­

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

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