Supreme Court ruling highlights need for improved consumer information

Australia’s peak motoring body says the Victorian Supreme Court has vindicated its calls for the Federal Government to improve the fuel consumption information being provided to consumers by car makers.

The Victorian Supreme Court found Mitsubishi’s advertised fuel use information, which is based upon the government-mandated laboratory test, to be “misleading and deceptive” because it fails to accurately describe the car’s performance in the real world.

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) says federal regulators have since 2015 been aware the laboratory tests used to enforce environmental controls are providing misleading information.

The AAA’s Managing Director, Michael Bradley, said: “Volkswagen’s cheating of laboratory tests has seen jurisdictions around the world improve their oversight of car maker performance and the information being provided to consumers.

“The European Union has incorporated real world testing into its vehicle regulation framework, but in Australia, consumers are still only told how new cars perform in the laboratory.

“AAA research shows Australian cars use up to 59 per cent more fuel in the real world than advertised, and their noxious emissions are up to 625 per cent over Australian regulatory limits.”

Like similar studies undertaken in other countries, the AAA’s research found that as emissions regulations around the world become more stringent, car makers are getting better at engineering vehicles that comply with regulations only in the laboratory.

Mr Bradley said: “The gap between laboratory and real-world performance has been widening every year, and consumers are each year receiving poorer information regarding fuel consumption and environmental performance.”

The AAA is calling on the Federal Government to copy the European Union’s real world test procedure and introduce an Australian real-world test program that can provide consumers and fleet buyers more valuable information on a vehicle’s noxious emissions, greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.

The AAA represents more than 8.5 million Australians through its clubs, the NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, RACT and AANT.

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