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Real-world testing


The real-world test is here

To help reduce vehicle emissions and running costs, the AAA offers car-buyers and policy-makers an alternative evaluation of the performance of Australian vehicles.

Following a $14 million funding commitment from the Commonwealth Government, Australians can now make more informed decisions about which new cars have the lowest impact on the environment and the household budget.

The AAA’s real-world test will:

enable consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions

make choosing a more efficient car easier

drive down consumer’s costs

help deliver environmental benefits

ensure emissions regulations are having a ‘real-world’ impact

Frequently Asked Questions


lookingfor Q Why does the AAA support real-world testing?


The real-world program will give households and businesses more accurate information about the vehicles they drive and about their running costs.

Many Australian households are paying hundreds of dollars more for fuel than advertised.

This is because overseas lab testing for fuel use and vehicle emissions doesn’t reflect the actual results of driving on Australian roads. And often the differences are substantial.

This means many families and businesses made vehicle purchase decisions that were guided by information that doesn’t reflect real-world performance.

Buying and running a car is a major expense, and consumers are entitled to expect reliable information. This initiative will help drive fuel savings through informed consumer choice.

lookingfor Q How does real-world testing work?


The AAA’s real-world testing will use prescribed testing protocols based on the European Commission’s Real Driving Emissions test procedure, adapted for Australian driving conditions.

Tests must meet requirements for vehicle condition, ambient conditions, altitude change, speed profiles, distance travelled, time elapsed and stop time – or the test must be repeated.

Testing is conducted on real public roads with a Portable Emissions Measurement System (PEMS) fitted to the vehicles. The AAA’s pilot study found high levels of repeatability in on-road testing with results on average within 3% variation over the test route.

The on-board test equipment will measure fuel consumption and tail-pipe emissions.

These emissions include greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as pollutants affecting air quality, including solid particles and oxides of nitrogen.

lookingfor Q What is wrong with laboratory tests?


Consistent with research from around the world, the AAA’s pilot study showed lab testing doesn’t give a good indication of actual on-road fuel consumption and emissions.

Sometimes the differences are very large.

On average, the cars we tested in the real world used 23% more fuel than in the lab tests. The worst result was 59% above the lab test.

Only three out of 30 cars used the same amount of fuel on the road as they did in the lab.

Eleven out of 12 diesels tested were over the regulated lab limit for nitrogen oxide. One model’s emissions were seven times the legal lab limit.

Cars sold in Australia aren’t necessarily the same as those sold in other markets.

Australian driving conditions also differ. We have lower highway speeds; 50km/h rather than 30km/h urban speed limits; and a hotter climate.

Australian car buyers and policy makers need a test that shows how vehicles perform on Australian roads, in Australian conditions, using Australian fuels.

lookingfor Q How many cars will you test and when?


The AAA expects the real-world test program will assess about 60 new vehicle models available in Australia each year.

This will build a comprehensive database. Over time, it is hoped car manufacturers will respond to the program and the divergence between laboratory and real-world performance will decline.

lookingfor Q How will vehicles be selected for testing?


Popular-selling vehicles will be prioritised to help cover as much of the new car market as possible. This ensures that as many consumers as possible can benefit from the results sooner.

lookingfor Q Are EVs included?


The test procedure can equally apply to electric vehicles. But the program will initially focus on the best-selling vehicle models, which are generally fitted with internal combustion engines or hybrid technology.

lookingfor Q How will I know if my car has been tested?


Sign up to the AAA mailing list to be informed of which makes and models are being tested and their results. Click here to sign up