Australians Buying Bigger Cars Sparks Emissions Concerns

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A report by the National Transport Commission shows Aussies are shunning small cars in favour of larger, more powerful vehicles.

According to the Australian Automobile Association, this calls into question the way in which the Federal Government is developing new vehicle emissions standards, and highlights the urgent need for a real-world vehicle emissions testing regime.

"Emissions standards which dissuade the purchase of large vehicles and promote the sale of smaller vehicles bring benefits and costs," says the AAA. "While the benefits (reduced fuel use) are generally easy to calculate, the costs, in the form of lost vehicle choice and performance are harder to calculate."

The AAA says the Government's work in this area expressly acknowledges these costs are real, but then fails to make any attempt to calculate them.

The NTC report shows a growing number of Australians value attributes the Government is failing to factor into its current cost-benefit analysis and suggests the Government's numbers are getting less accurate by the month, the AAA says.

The NTC's report, Carbon Dioxide Emissions Intensity for New Australian Light Vehicles 2016, shows sales of micro, light and small cars have dropped by 45,114 between 2014 and 2016, while sales of SUVs (small, medium, large, upper large) have increased by 88,670.

"These new figures underscore the need for the Government to update its modelling and undertake further consultation before finalising its preferred vehicle emissions regulations," says the AAA.

The NTC report also shows Australian consumers are not provided quality information about the fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions of vehicles they intend to purchase. The AAA says it has has long called for Government's Green Vehicle Guide to be improved to include a simple star-rating system and information based upon real-world vehicle emissions testing conducted in Australian conditions.

"In the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, jurisdictions across the globe are taking steps to use real world emissions testing to provide more accurate information to consumers about emissions and fuel consumption and such reform should be at the top of the Government's list of priorities in this area," says the AAA.

The AAA is currently conducting a pilot real-world vehicle emissions program which so far shows vehicle fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are up to 60 per cent higher than claimed on the Government's mandated Fuel Consumption Label, which uses data recorded in laboratory testing.