Study found some new vehicles were using 59 percent more fuel in real-life testing than advertised.

Canberra, Australia - "Eco-friendly" hybrid cars regularly produce four times as much carbon dioxide as manufacturers claim.

A report compiled by the Australian Automobile Association with the backing of industry heavyweights and published on Monday, found that in real-world testing some new vehicles are using 59 percent more fuel than advertised. One hybrid electric vehicle tested by the AAA used four times as much fuel as claimed by the manufacturer, meaning the fuel bill for owners of that vehicle could be $750 (R10 300) a year more than claimed in advertising.

The AAA is using the report to call on the Australian government to introduce mandatory real-world emissions testing for new cars.

Chief executive officer Michael Bradley said on Monday: "More stringent emissions laws are meant to reduce pollution and drive down fuel use, however our results suggest such benefits occur largely only in the laboratory. Australian motorists have a right to accurate information about fuel consumption and environmental performance when buying a new car.

"The current system is misleading consumers and regulators. Only real world testing can drive down costs to consumers and deliver meaningful environmental benefit."

Real-world tests

The AAA conducted real-world tests on 30 vehicles during the 18-month, $390 000 (R5.35 million) study but chose not to identify those that performed poorly because it would be unfair against those that were not tested.

In 2002, the difference between real-world fuel consumption and laboratory test performance was 10 percent. That figure grew to 35 percent in 2014 and is projected to be 49 percent by 2020 as manufacturers continue to better optimise lab tests.

Australia has the worst quality fuel of 35 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development with regular unleaded fuel containing as much as 150 parts per million of sulphur compared to the world's best fuel which the AAA said has less than 10 ppm.

Xinhua New Agency