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The 'game' of official fuel figures

In Australia, the official ADR fuel figures are created from government tests.
In Australia, the official ADR fuel figures are created from government tests.

WE MAY not like buying it but we love talking about it - fuel, that is. Filling the tank is something not many Australians enjoy, but it is something they take a special interest in. Whether it involves buying up at the supermarket or driving a few suburbs, many are passionate about saving a few cents a litre.

As motorists become more interested in how much fuel their car uses - or should use - it's likely to become more of a focus. All cars now come with a claimed fuel use figure (see them all at greenvehicleguide.gov.au) but, as many Drive readers know, the chances of achieving that figure are slim.

Not surprisingly car makers are perfecting the art of lowering their cars' claimed fuel consumption figures (expressed in litres per 100km). Whether it's removing a spare tyre, changing the gearing, fitting special tyres or fitting lightweight components, car makers are working out how to best perform in the government test.

The issue has ignited in the United States recently, with one hybrid owner successfully suing Honda over real world fuel use that was higher than the official claim. Hyundai was also reportedly pressured by a US consumer group into not promoting the exact fuel efficiency of one of its cars in a Super Bowl ad.

In Australia, the official ADR fuel figures are created from government tests that are often unrepresentative of everyday driving. The "urban" cycle, for example, has the car stopped for four minutes of a 13 minute test cycle, while even the "extra urban" or highway tests stipulates the car must be stopped for 40 seconds and reach a top speed of 120km/h, a speed irrelevant to all but those in the Northern Territory.

In some cases you could use upwards of double the claimed fuel use. But don't go blaming the car makers - they're just playing a game with rules set by the government.

Topics:  motoring



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