Way back in October of 2005, Consumer Reports shocked the nation with its expose of fuel economy ratings on new cars. Testers calculated real world gas mileage on 303 cars and trucks, and found that 90% had inflated EPA fuel economy ratings. Sadly, hybrid vehicles were some of the worst culprits. They took three out of the top five spots for average fuel economy, but the discrepencies were greater between what the sticker said their fuel economy was and what testers actually achieved.

With all of the recent talk about raising CAFE standards, this seems a fitting time to appeal for tighter EPA controls over fuel economy calculations. Here are some of the problems with the current testing procedures:
  • Car manufacturers are allowed to use hand-built prototypes for fuel efficiency ratings--they don't have to use cars that come off of the assembly line.
  • Real-world idle times are longer than those used in EPA test protocols.
  • Americans spend more time in city driving situations than EPA combined mileage calculations estimate.
  • Tests are simulated on computers; nobody actually drives anywhere.
So when you write your congressman to show your support for tighter CAFE standards, be sure to give a sound bite to more accurate calculations of fuel economies.

[Source: Consumer Reports]


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