• Oct 1st 2009 at 1:28PM
  • 38
The EPA is aware that range-extended electric vehicles can game the current fuel economy test to deliver mileage estimates way up in the stratosphere. It makes for impressive advertising, like General Motors' touting of the Chevrolet Volt's estimated 230 mpg, but the EPA wants to give a more realistic reflection of the fuel efficiency of these types of cars, and it's not alone.

According to USA Today, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory would like the EPA's new formula to provide buyers information about the efficiency of the vehicle on either of its two fuels, providing two different numbers. An Israeli company also wants more data, pushing for three pieces of information: electricity used when fully charged, electricity consumed to top off the batteries, and how much fuel the range-extending gasoline engine uses when pressed into service.

The new ratings are important to consumers and automakers alike. If accurate, these new ratings would give buyers more insight into what they can actually expect to get. For now, carmakers are holding their breath to determine just what they'll be able to get away with claiming when advertising... let the lobbying begin!

[Source: USA Today]


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  • 38 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This will go down as one of the most deceptive marketing messages ever.
        • 5 Years Ago
        But the car was never sold, so at this point no one was harmed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The EPA needs to address the outlandishly bogus claims of Global Warming that the government wankers are using to try to control every aspect of our lives.
        • 5 Years Ago
        To be fair, the EPA is WAY behind the ball on establishing a standard since the properties and capabilities of range-extended EVs are known. They bear the brunt of blame for sharing the draft standards with Chevy.

        I can understand GM milking every last PR opportunity when they're against the ropes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ... let the lobbying begin!

      You're absolutely right. Politicians and bureaucrats love this kind of thing because they're going to get tons of contributions and special favors from a bunch of automakers now. Can we just get the EPA out of fuel economy ratings? How many auto magazines, websites, and TV shows already report this information for free? Why do we keep paying for EPA ratings when it's clearly little more than a way for politicians and bureaucrats to grab power, help out their buddies, and rake in the cash?
      • 5 Years Ago
      It may be impractical to do from a testing standpoint, but I think they should establish a standard mixed-driving looped course and drive a car until it is exhausted of energy (be it from fuel, batteries, or both). Report the mpg as usual. Yes, this would still favor the hybrids, but not so much as the set-distance techniques used now (which may not dip much into the ICE consumption).
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's about time they address this though them dragging their feet for so long is very annoying. Yes there are a TON of factors involved in this but why not just dumb it down to a point that the average person will understand and related to. I'm sorry I don't see every owner of a EV to plug it in nightly, there will be times when one is to tired, or just forgets. That and what about when people are stuck in traffic or when there is none at all. Also as others have mentioned temp effects the batteries what about taking this into account.

      Must ask this also, will the dealers give us the consumer information onto what it will cost to recharge the car from a complete drain to full charge and also give a estimate on how much per year it will cost. Sorry electricity isnt going to be free we are going to be paying for it folks. That and as someone else stated with more EV and Hybrids coming out gas tax income will be getting lower and they'll look to taxing electricy to make up for it and hence higher price's for electricity.

      Myself I can't think of a good way to get a good number maybe a continual use from full to empty both gas and electricity tanks, and a daily use number what one might expect from a trip to and from work plus a side trip. -:shrugs:-
        • 5 Years Ago
        What about all the night-shift people, or people with two jobs, who will have no choice but to charge the BEVs during the day, getting charged peak rates and placing strain on the system? Not everyone has the luxury of letting their car sit idle 8-12 hours at night.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why are they doing this? Because GM looks good now? Well, we 'own' them and have a vested interest in their success. We always have had, too.

      Just give some raw data and let consumers figure it out. If they can't then F them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because GM has kind of shown them how dumb the figure is.

        If the volt is actually advertised as getting 230mpg it will bite GM in the ass when people drive 70+ miles or don't fully charge it, or just forget to charge it over night at all; and then wind up getting the more realistic 40 or 50mpg figure that the volt actually gets.

        Of course the problem GM has is that 40 miles on EV + 40 or 50 mpg figure doesn't seem like much of an achievement in the grand scheme of things and it's hard to market. In theory you could go for days or months without using a drop of gas, but that requires explanation and it's difficult to get that point across( just look at any volt discussion on autoblog).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe the American public should just wise up for once and learn what numbers really mean.

      The sticker on every electric car should state the following, in the appropriate and scientifically accepted units (i.e. not trying to somehow relate "MPG" to miles per kwh or something stupid):
      -Miles per charge
      -Battery capacity
      -Amount of power needed to fully charge the battery (with approximate costs based on region)
      -Charging time, both for a regular plug-in outlet or some sort of docking station (if applicable)
      -Fuel tank capacity (if applicable)
      -MPG running on fuel only (if applicable)
      -Approximate charging rate via gas motor (if applicable)
      -Approximate charging rate via regenerative braking, etc, while under electric-only power. (if applicable)
      -Plus a few others Im forgetting.

      My only point is that people should learn to understand numbers. How about those Nissan ads a while back bragging about the 500 mile per tank range on the Altima? People are stupid enough to think that miles per tank has a direct correlation with actual fuel efficiency, when in fact, it is due to the car having a huge fuel tank compared to its competitors. Actual fuel economy in MPG was nothing all that special. Not bad at all, but definitely not noteworthy.

      Based on a detailed list of data that SHOULD be provided with any alternative fuel vehicle, the educated public (lol) SHOULD be able to pick out the best vehicle based on their needs. For example, my personal car is performance oriented, and a bit heavy. However, it easily manages well over 30mpg on the highway and on country roads, even with occasional spirited driving. Stoplight to stoplight city driving is where it struggles. With about a 35/65 split of city/highway, I average about 26mpg, which works for ME. If my life was 90% confined to an urban setting, I would not own this car. It baffles me that the car buying public is very often unable to analyze economy data beyond the two bold figures on the sticker.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Three ratings? That seems to me to be a good way to only confuse consumers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Likely less confusing then telling them their Volt will do 230mpg or their Nissan Leaf will do 367 mpg?

        Homo Sapiens, fortunately, have the mental capacity to understand more then one set of numbers as long as its properly descriptive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      More information will be better, I just hope we can understand it.

      With so many different types of hybirds out there, it is really hard to compare the systems alone, much less the actual efficiency of them. - compared to each other, what a nightmare.

      Motorweek uses those "oil barrel" icons in their shows to show how much oil is used - or something like that. Not sure if they still use that system or not.

      The EPA info does seem a bit antiquated, and how does all that SULEV, PZEV, LEV, ZEV stuff fit in as well ?!
      • 5 Years Ago
      The truth is that the J1711 rule developed by Argonne National Labs for the EPA produces a very reasonable estimate of the mileage that you can expect over the course of a year when driving an EREV type vehicle. It incorporates the EREV strategy of treating not all miles driven as equal; and favoring electric miles always first, so that an outsize amount of miles driven are electric miles. That produces much more petroleum replacement than merely calculating electric distance possible, and then gasoline mileage subsequently.
      Similarly it will produce a realistic annual figure for a PHEV parallel-series hybrid of the Prius type.

      Both will be in the triple digits for mpge. and what is more easily replicated by the average driver.
      .
      Bu the know-nothing enviro-Cassandras, and their illiterate politicians, can't or don't want to admit that the petroleum PRICE crisis is near resolution. It was never about availability in these next few centuries.

      It would remove their ability to be Cassandras and to extract the maximum amount of coin from consumers and the ability to bathe them in guilt, that allows the technological illiterates to stay in office.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Like someone said, just drive it until it dies and then you will know the true mileage.
      Do it ten times in the city and ten times on the highway and you should have a pretty good idea of the real gas mileage.
      100% confident that it is not 230 mpg, lol
      • 5 Years Ago
      What about the Consumer Reports test procedures? Maybe they could come up with some good real world testing procedure?
      • 5 Years Ago
      1. The cost of running the vehicle should be 1 to 2 cents per mile, compared to 10 cents or more per mile to run a gas car.

      2. How Can An Electric Car Travel 100 Miles For $1?
      Please search http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/09/100-miles-per-dollar.php for informative details.
      3. Applied to a different methodology from DOE formula, the notable EVs suffice to reach 200 to 300 MPG .

      4. The vehicle-to-grid communication technology is helping the battery serve as a storage to prevent the costly blackout standing at about $90 to 100bn per year. That means utilities are shedding cost for additional storage facilities and ratepayers are selling electricity during peak demand so that EVs can make more economic sense, as we know.


      5. Electric vehicles require little maintenance -- no oil changes, for instance --. Better still, they can charge at the stores offering charge service.
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