GEELONG’s Real-World Testing Program has unveiled significant discrepancies between on-road and laboratory results for fuel consumption and emissions in its second round of testing, building on initial findings from November.

Launched in response to the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, the program aims to bridge the global gap identified between laboratory and real-world vehicle performance.

A 2017 Australian Automobile Association (AAA) study indicated vehicles on average consumed 23 per cent more fuel in real conditions than in laboratory tests.

The federal government funds the $14 million program run by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), with the aim of providing accurate comparisons between real-world driving conditions and the manufacturers’ reported laboratory tests.

This batch of testing, held across the Geelong region, evaluated 13 cars, including small and medium SUVs, passenger cars, and people movers.

Results showed five vehicles exceeded their laboratory test fuel consumption by 9 per cent to 20 per cent. Four vehicles also surpassed Australian regulatory limits for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) or carbon monoxide emissions.

Among the vehicles, the BMW X3 showed the largest discrepancy, consuming 20 per cent more fuel in real-world tests than in laboratory conditions.

AAA managing director Michael Bradley said Real-World Testing offered consumers and fleet buyers a clear picture of vehicle running costs and environmental performance and would drive down demand for models that over-promised and under-delivered.

“Australian families and fleet buyers can place their faith in the reliability of these tests, which show that when comparing vehicles, consumers cannot assume that better lab performance will translate into real-world savings,” Mr Bradley said.

“Using these fuel consumption test results will improve motoring affordability for Australians, while cleaning up our light vehicle fleet.”

Other notable vehicles with higher consumption included the MG3, Audi Q5, Toyota Yaris Cross, and Volvo XC40.

In contrast, the Kia Carnival demonstrated a 7 per cent lower fuel consumption on the road compared to its lab results.

The program also identified four vehicles with pollutant emissions exceeding Australian standards.

The Kia Carnival, Hyundai Staria, and Kia Sportage breached NOx limits, while the MG3’s carbon monoxide emissions were 85 per cent above the regulated lab test limit.

“This information could help a new car buyer save hundreds of dollars a year. The program is also helping fleet-owners to better manage their purchasing decisions, budgets, and environmental commitments,” Mr Bradley said.

“The AAA is pleased to be partnering with the government to deliver this important program and is grateful that it enjoys bi-partisan political support.”

The tests are conducted with strict adherence to guidelines based on European Union legislation, ensuring the repeatability of fuel consumption and CO2 results while minimising the influence of human factors.

The AAA’s testing around Geelong, including 23 tests on a Toyota RAV4 reference vehicle, showed less than 2.5 per cent variability in fuel consumption results.

Scheduled to run over four years starting in November 2023, the program will test 200 cars, SUVs, and utes, including electric vehicles, aiming for comprehensive coverage and impact.

Extracted in full from: