It's Official: Aussie Petrol Sucks

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According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures, Australian petrol is the worst of all 35 OECD countries. Aussie standards allow for 150 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur - the stuff that, once it hits the atmosphere, can form acid rain and also cause respiratory issues for anyone who likes breathing. It's been 15 years since we last revisited the standards in our fuel - it's time we took another look.

Producing fuel with 150ppm of sulphur makes it cheaper to produce petrol, thereby keeping prices down, although it's hard to tell what the benefit is given prices at the pump are nudging $1.50 at the moment. That's for 91RON fuels which are pegged at a maximum of 50ppm in other OECD countries. The more expensive 95RON and 98RON fuels, which allow for 50ppm, are dirtier than the equivalents in other countries which set the limits for those files at 10ppm according to a report at Wheels.

One solution cited by the Wheels article would be to make the dirtier 91RON fuel more expensive than the 95RON fuel, thereby creating a price trigger to entice drivers to use cleaner fuel - kind of a "polluter's tax".

It's also important to note that about three-quarters of our car imports come from Europe or European-designed vehicles that are made for fuels that are of a cleaner standard than our 91RON petrol.

As we continue to look for ways to do better than the previous generation when it comes to pumping crap into the atmosphere, it seems one thing we can do is use cleaner fuel. That's going to hurt the hip pocket - I fill my car with 98RON and regularly pay close to $0.20 per litre more than the cheapest fuel at the bowser - but I like the idea that my kids and grandkids might have a slightly better chance of being able to breathe the air they live in.

Of course, the entire discussion could become moot if we eventually abandon petrol-fuelled vehicles and move to electric vehicles. Then we'll only have the electricity generation business to fight with over emissions.

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Comments

    Little known fact... some manufacturers of performance vehicles didn't sell their top cars in Australia because our petrol quality wasn't high enough. That changed when Australia finally started selling imported 98 ron fuel.

      Or we'd get detuned variants usually reserved for places like africa.

      In the dark days (late 90s) i used to have to hunt for good fuel to put in my imported 205 gti. "Premium 95" usually pinged.

      I once drove it to melbourne, after 98 became nationally available, and copped a tank of country fuel which had been cut so much with ethanol or toluene that the car literally couldn't idle. Good thing the tank was fairly small.

        I've had that happen before. Luckily when I had my old Mazda 323 gt. I had a aftermarket ECU with dual mapping. I had a crap fuel tune as well as my normal.

        Haha, I did similar for my Japanese import. Moorabbin airport used to sell some good fuel.. :)

    I think this has been 'official' for a while. Even at 98RON there is noticeable quality differences between brands. With a car tuned for decent petrol I've consistently noticed reduced power and detonation/knock with some brands of 98.

      Current car. Slightly modified xr5 turbo, if I buy fuel from caltex it triggers an emissions warning. Dual o2 sensors one after the cat converter gets set off.

    I've always found it interesting how cars in Australia seem to just die around the 250,000km mark (either that, or people are against buying cars with that many km's because of "all the trouble they will have to deal with), but in europe and the US, a car with that many km's is only considered as being in the middle of their lifespan. I guess keeping fuel quality low is another way to keep the automotive industry afloat since we effectively halve the lifespan of our cars, meaning we need to spend twice as much on them.

    I wonder if now that local manufacturing is going away it'll be easier to pass regulation changes?

      I don't think my parents have ever sold a car they've owned before it's hit 350,000 and they have mostly owned commodores and falcons.

    And you think our petrol is bad.. let's talk about our diesel

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