Gas guzzler or petrol pincher: call for better car data

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson |

The Climate Council wants fuel and emissions data on imported cars made public.
The Climate Council wants fuel and emissions data on imported cars made public.

Motorists should be told whether imported vehicles are gas guzzlers or significant polluters, an environmental group says.

The Climate Council has urged the federal government to publish the emissions information it collects about vehicles brought into Australia under its proposed New Vehicle Efficiency Standard.

But the change could impact the automotive group which currently collates vehicle information and charges fees to access it. 

The New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, outlined in March, is due to come into effect next year with the proposed laws to be debated in federal parliament soon.

The standard will set rising emission limits for vehicles between 2025 and 2029, and is designed to cut pollution from passenger cars by 60 per cent and from light commercial vehicles and some large SUVs by 50 per cent before the end of the decade. 

Climate Council policy and advocacy head Jennifer Rayner said the government would collect emissions data as part of the scheme and should publish it to give the public greater insight into the vehicles they drive and how car brands are meeting requirements.

“The only way for Aussies to keep an eye on what happens with the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard is for the government to publicly release the data it will be collecting through the scheme,” she said.

“The legislation governing this scheme must ensure this information is reported and released publicly.”

Dr Rayner said publishing the data would help to keep automotive brands “accountable from day one,” and would provide motorists with independent data outside the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries that currently collects sales and emissions information, and charges for access to parts of its database. 

The chamber, which declined to comment on the Climate Council’s call, opposed parts of the federal government’s vehicle standard, including its timeline, financial penalties, and emission credits.

In announcing the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, Transport Minister Catherine King said regulators would need additional time to establish and test the collection of vehicle emissions data, delaying penalties under the scheme by six months.

Motorists can currently check a vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions data at the Green Vehicle Guide website, although data advertised by vehicle manufacturers has come under scrutiny.

Early results from the Australian Automobile Association’s $14 million Real World Testing Program found more than half of those examined used more petrol than lab tests had indicated.