On the road

Real-World Testing delivers first results

Australia’s Real-World Testing Program gives car buyers relevant information that can help them choose vehicles with lower running costs and lower tailpipe emissions.

The Real-World Testing Program delivered its first results in late 2023, with the next tranche of results expected this quarter.

The program measures vehicles’ carbon dioxide and pollutant emissions and uses this data to calculate fuel consumption on Australian roads – results that can vary significantly from car makers’ lab tests that are required under Australian regulations.

In 2023, the program finalised results for nine small and mid-sized SUVs (seven petrol, one diesel and one hybrid) that were test-driven on a 93-kilometre route in and around Geelong, Victoria, that includes urban and rural roads, as well as a stretch of motorway.

But in the first tranche of Real-World Testing, five vehicles had real-world fuel consumption 8 percent to 13 percent higher than their lab test results. Four vehicles’ real-world fuel consumption results were within 2 per cent of their lab test results.

Four out of nine vehicles tested recorded noxious emissions results that exceeded either the applicable lab test limits for Australian-regulated or European-regulated pollutants – or both.

The first tranche covers nine specific SUVs, seven of which were petrol vehicles. Much more work remains to be done in testing a wider range of vehicle types, including more diesel and hybrid vehicles, utes and cars of all sizes.

Real-World Testing has only just begun. The program is currently testing more SUVs. In 2024 it will also test small and medium passenger cars, people movers and utes, including petrol, diesel and hybrid models. Future testing of electric vehicles is on the radar, with work to be done on developing appropriate test procedures and metrics.

Over four years, the program will test about 200 vehicles.

The program is backed by the RACT and other motoring clubs and is managed by the Australian Automobile Association on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, which has provided $14 million in funding.

To view the first tranche of test results, see realworld.org.au