A WHEELS magazine investigation has revealed that Australia has one of the filthiest fuel standards in the developed world. While US, China, Europe and other OECD signatories have, or are about to introduce fuel quality standards that meet or beat the Euro 6 standards of 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur. There are no immediate plans for Australia to toughen its current standard of 150ppm of sulphur in our 91RON unleaded – Australia’s most popular fuel. With our standards remaining unchanged since 2002, even Australia’s ‘cleanest’ unleaded fuels, (i.e 95RON and 98RON), are rated at 50ppm. That’s equivalent to Mexico, a country which has long held the distinction of having the world’s dirtiest fuel.
The sulphur contained in our bowser fuels is released as sulphur dioxide, a common cause of breathing problems and a generator of acid rain. And while high-sulphur fuels are cheaper to produce – and therefore cheaper to sell – they actually cost as more in the long run. As high-sulphur fuels cause excessive engine wear and do not burn as efficiently as low-sulphur variants. It has long been known that some manufacturers find it necessary to detune their cars to make them local fuel compatible. This practice saps performance and fuel efficiency.
Without upgrading to current Euro 6 standards, there’s every likelihood that a number of European engines currently under development will not be available in Australia – as our high sulphur levels will kill them. That would be very disappointing.
Wheels magazine has been Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine, since 1953. For more information and to see the full Wheels investigative feature, click here.