The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it was “deeply concerned about the level of non-compliance with the Australian Consumer Law in the new car industry” in its 162-page draft report into the New Car Retailing Industry.
The report was released after the ACCC took action against Ford, Holden, Volkswagen and Audi for alleged breaches of Australian consumer law.
The court action has accused the car companies of misdeeds ranging from failing to properly repair vehicles to misleading buyers about fuel consumption and emissions.
The report found that consumers often struggle to enforce their consumer guarantee rights when a care is found to be defective.
The report also found there is often a gap between advertised and real-world fuel consumption and emissions.
“For example, we’ve seen research that indicates that real world fuel consumption is on average 25 per cent higher than official laboratory test results,” the ACCC said.
“This research also suggests that the gap between laboratory and real-world fuel consumption is not consistent across car types or brands, and has been increasing in recent years. In some cases, manufacturers aren’t appropriately qualifying the fuel consumption claims they make to consumers.”
The ACCC found at least one in ten new car buyers use an independent repairer to repair or service their new cars but some independent repairers can’t access the technical information they need from car manufacturers to repair and service new cars.
The ACCC has proposed a mandatory scheme for car manufacturers to share technical information with independent repairers.
It has recommended changes to consumer protection laws making it clear to consumers when they are entitled to a refund or replacement under consumer guarantees and specific forms of disclosure in relation to extended warranties.
It has also recommended more realistic laboratory tests for fuel consumption and emissions performance, and testing for vehicle emissions under real world conditions.