Fuel economy and pollution ratings for new cars to be put to the test in australia for the first time

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THE fuel economy and pollution levels of some of Australia’s most popular new cars are about to be put to an unprecedented real-world test.

Following the Volkswagen Group scandal that saw 11 million vehicles recalled globally because they had software that could cheat laboratory tests, Australias peak motoring body has announced that from next year it will start testing cars on local roads.

The Australian Automobile Association the peak body representing motoring clubs such as the NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, and represents almost 8 million motorists will test 30 new cars sold locally over an 18 month period.

The initial list of 30 vehicles is yet to be determined but it will include petrol and diesel models.

The tests will mirror those being conducted by similar bodies overseas, but the AAA will prioritise models sold here but not overseas.

To date during initial overseas tests, no other brand has been found to have used cheating software.

However, the AAA says it is vital that car buyers can believe the fuel economy and pollution ratings on the showroom labels.

The announcement comes ahead of the Federal Government forum on vehicle emissions being hosted in Sydney on Monday afternoon by ministers Paul Fletcher, Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt.

Michael Bradley, the chief executive of the AAA, said the organisation is very concerned that the government currently has no capacity to test, audit, or enforce elements of its current vehicle emissions regulatory regime.

Mr Bradley said the debate about Australias current vehicle emission standards risks being rendered meaningless unless a more relevant testing regime is put in place.

The Volkswagen scandal 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, said Mr Bradley.

The Minister for Major Projects Paul Fletcher said he welcomed the AAAs interest and commitment to this important issue.

Recently the Turnbull Government announced a Ministerial Forum comprising Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Energy and Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg and myself to review policy across all aspects of vehicle emissions.

Today a forum with stakeholders was held in Sydney. Some 50 representatives attended including AAA President Michael Bradley.

The Ministerial Forum is an opportunity to fully investigate the issue of vehicle testing as well as many other issues in relation to vehicle emissions. I welcome the involvement of the AAA in this forum.

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.

The AAA testing is estimated to cost $500,000 over 18 months. The analysis will be done by an independent testing firm in Melbourne which, until now, has specialised in heavy vehicle emissions.

The AAA aims to source the cars independently, rather than borrow them from manufacturers, so they are indicative of what the public buys.

The testing will also use fuel bought at a petrol station, not special laboratory fuel.

Technical expert at the AAA, Craig Newland, said: A number of overseas governments have started doing real driving emissions tests because they recognise the lab tests dont tell you everything. Our concern is there are some vehicles that are sold in Australia that are not sold in overseas, and we need some capability here to be able to assess those properly in the future.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

Australian car owners have launched their second class action lawsuit against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda.