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Are you entitled to a refund? Mitsubishi Triton owner refunded full purchase price after car exceeded official fuel-use claim

One Mitsubishi Triton owner has been refunded the full purchase price of his vehicle

A Mitsubishi Triton owner has been refunded the full purchase price of his vehicle at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after the car failed to meet its claimed fuel-use figures.

In a landmark decision that could have wide-reaching implications for Australia's automotive industry, the Tribunal found the Triton's fuel label was "misleading and deceptive", and ordered the $39,500 purchase price be refunded.

The claim, brought against Northpark Berwick Investments and Mitsubishi Motors by Triton owner Zelko Begovic, is believed to the first of its kind in Australia. 

It centred on claims by Mr Begovic that the Mitsubishi Triton GLS he purchased in 2017 couldn't achieve the offical fuel-consumption claims on the sticker affixed to its windscreen. That sticker claimed the Triton would use 7.6 litres of fuel per 100 km on the combined cycle, 9.0 litres on the Urban (city) cycle, and 6.8 litres on the Extra Urban (freeway) cycle. The figures were "tested in accordance with ADR 81/02".

But Mr Begovic claimed the vehicle actually used 12.44L/100km on the Extra Urban cycle - a number that was higher even than the 10.0L/100km he achieved in his previous car, a 2008 Mitsubishi Triton.

He told the Tribunal he upgraded his vehicle based on the new car's claimed fuel economy, and presented evidence he had returned to the dealership on four occasions to report the higher fuel-use figures. 

Testing submitted by Mr Begovic at the hearing found the Triton used as much as 53 per cent more fuel than the claimed figure, depending on the test cycle. The manufacturer's own testing reported Extra Urban fuel use at an average 8.5L/100km.

The Tribunal found the fuel-consumption sticker was "misleading and deceptive", and ordered that Northpark Berwick Investments take ownership of the vehicle and refund Mr Begovic $39,500.

"Based upon my findings...I conclude that the label was misleading and deceptive for the vehicle. My finding is limited to the vehicle subject of these proceedings," the Tribunal's senior member, L. Ford, wrote.

"The label information was false based on the expert evidence. It misled Mr Begovic to believe the vehicle had certain fuel consumption characteristics it did not have. He relied upon the representation in the label in making his decision to purchase the vehicle.

"He wanted a vehicle with a better fuel consumption than his 2008 vehicle. In purchasing the vehicle, he did not get what was represented to him by the fuel label. He suffered a loss by reason of increased fuel costs which he did not bargain for when purchasing the vehicle.

"I find that both the dealer and the manufacturer engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct. As previously stated, the manufacturer was responsible for the label information and adhering the label to the vehicle knowing that the vehicle was to be sold by the dealer or at least a dealer in Australia. The dealer sold the vehicle with the label information."

Mitsubishi in Australia says it "strongly disagrees" with VCAT's findings, and has applied for leave to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

"Mitsubishi Motors Australia strongly disagree with the findings in a VCAT case with Mr Zelko Begovic that the stated fuel consumption on the label on his 2016 Triton GLS was misleading," the brand said in a statement. "The Tribunal took into account test results provided by the customer of their used vehicle, which was tested to a different methodology to the ADR81/02 standard outlined on the fuel consumption label.

"The testing used different standards to achieve a result, including vehicle load, fuel quality standard, and the tests were outside laboratory conditions as they utilised portable testing equipment.

"Mitsubishi Motors Australia does not agree with the testing underlying his claim, due to the many variations in the testing which makes the results presented by Mr Begovic to VCAT incomparable to the official ADR test cycle figures on the vehicle.

"In regards to the claim of Mr Begovic in the Tribunal that his fuel consumption figures when he drove the vehicle exceeded the ADR mandated test figures; Mitsubishi Motors Australia notes that real-world testing is different to laboratory testing. The fuel consumption label on all vehicles states 'actual fuel consumption and CO2 emissions depend on factors such as traffic conditions, vehicle conditions and how you drive' and this applies to all vehicles on the road today.

"Mr Begovic also had modified his vehicle from the factory standard which can also lead to increased fuel consumption. Mitsubishi Motors Australia has separately applied for leave to appeal the Tribunal’s decision in the Supreme Court."

CarsGuide has contacted the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries for comment. 

Does your car achieve its claimed fuel-use figures? Tell us in the comments below.