"They should always be viewed as estimates. We don't want consumers to view them as absolute values," Margo Oge, director of the EPA's transportation and air quality division, told the Chicago Tribune about the estimated MPG numbers that each new car sold in the U.S. bears.

No kidding, huh? The EPA has long been criticized (rightly) because their estimates are higher than pretty much anyone gets in real life driving (hypermiliers excluded, of course). Now, 33 years after implementing the fuel economy standards for cars, the EPA will announce new rules (the first since 1985) for the way it calculates this estimate in December. These new estimates will start to be applied to 2008 model year cars. The new numbers will likely be 5 percent to 25 percent lower than current estimates.

This isn't the first attempt to get more accurate MPG numbers. Currently, the EPA offers a Your MPG section of its website where users can report their real-life mileage numbers. In the private realm, TrueDelta is collecting similar data through a type of wiki-MPG project.

I've got lots of questions about the revamped EPA. I want to know if the EPA will take different fuel types into consideration. Will the EPA provide some sort of calculator for shoppers to compare 2007 and 2008 model year vehicles with each other? Will car companies still be allowed to self-report their MPG numbers? What about exterior factors like climate and landscape (hilly vs. flat, for example)? Will there be a combined official test/Your MPG number that averages the EPA's test with user-reported statistics? And so on. What do you want to know?

Related:
[Source: Chicago Tribune via HybridCars]


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