The Australian Automobile Assn. will fund a research program analyzing the real-world emissions of vehicles in Australia as part of an effort to develop a more appropriate national testing regime.

The country’s leading motoring organization says it green-lighted the 18-month project after it was disclosed more than 10 million Volkswagen Group vehicles had been fitted with “defeat-device” software designed to understate emissions produced in laboratory settings.

AAA CEO Michael Bradley says the results will be given to the Australian government's Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions. The forum will report on options for managing fuel-quality standards, new measurement-reporting standards for air pollutants and new measures to achieve Australia’s 2030 climate-change targets.

“There is a debate emerging around the adequacy of Australia’s current vehicle-emission standards, but this debate risks being rendered meaningless unless a more relevant testing regime is put in place,” Bradley says in a statement. “Action must be taken to test the emissions claims made by vehicle manufacturers.”

Bradley says the VW scandal shows regulators around the globe need to be assessing real-world vehicle emissions, not just those produced in a laboratory.

“The AAA is very concerned that the government has no capacity to test, audit or enforce elements of its current vehicle-emissions regulatory regime,” he says.

The AAA has commissioned an independent engineering firm to commence on-road testing of Australian vehicles early next year.

The testing will be consistent with the real driving emissions methods and protocols developed by the European Commission and will assess emissions from volume-production vehicles on the Australian market when driven on local roads under local conditions.

VW Australia is recalling more than 77,000 Volkswagen and Skoda cars and Audi is recalling another 14,000 Australian vehicles.