Remember that new 36-mpg 2012 BMW 3 Series we were so excited about, the 328i that got better fuel economy in EPA testing than even the old 335d diesel model? Well, those early estimates haven't held up.

BMW has confirmed to Autoblog that the EPA has issued revised numbers for the eight-speed automatic-equipped F30 328i, with highway fuel economy taking a 3-mile-per-gallon hit to 33 mpg and the city number dropping by a single digit to 23 mpg. BMW is investigating the discrepancy but says the 2012 figure will stay at 33. Spokesman Tom Plucinsky: "Unfortunately, there is no provision in the EPA rules for a re-test this year. Therefore regardless of the results of our investigation, the new rating will stand for this model year."

Though BMW says its testing showed the car capable of 36 mpg on the highway, the EPA decided to validate BMW's numbers and came away with different results. As we type this, the government's fueleconomy.gov website has not yet been updated, though BMW's consumer website reflects the new numbers. According to Plucinsky, buyers of the six-speed manual 328i can expect to see a 34 mpg highway figure on their window sticker, which fueleconomy.gov corroborates at 23/34.

What's surprising about this situation is that when we test drove the new 3 Series last fall, BMW told our Matt Davis it was estimating only 32 mpg highway. Plucinsky suggests that perhaps the 32-mpg figure was an "early estimate was based on the previous version of the 328i."

While the efficiency hit is disappointing, even with the downgrade to 33-to-34 miles per gallon, the 3 Series' fuel economy figures are still class-leading, besting competitors including the Acura TL and TSX, Audi A4, Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

With all of that said, we can't help but wonder if this development will add fuel to the fire of those who have been clamoring for the EPA to "retest" the fuel economy of vehicles in the wake of owner complaints?

Click past the jump to read BMW's email explanation to us in full.

Show full PR text

This statement was provided to Autoblog in an e-mail from BMW:

All manufacturers are responsible for testing and submitting fuel economy figures each year to the EPA (based on physical tests following the EPA test cycle on a dynamometer). Occasionally, the EPA will validate the figures that we provide. When this happens, there are sometimes small changes in the published EPA fuel economy figures (usually 1 mpg up or down).

The EPA recently tested the 2012 328i Automatic and obtained a highway mileage result that was 3m pg lower (33mpg versus 36mpg) than the BMW test result. We are very surprised by this result and are currently working to determine how this is possible. The new rating seems abnormally low in relation to the other models in the BMW range and by the real-world fuel economy that we are seeing from this model.

Unfortunately, there is no provision in the EPA rules for a re-test this year. Therefore regardless of the results of our investigation, the new rating will stand for this model year.


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  • 18 Comments
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      23/34? The 34mpg is pretty nice (or 33, or whatever) for a BMW, but the 23? Did they just slap a tall gear on at the end to get the 34? I think the Explorer (yes, too lazy to look it up right now) is around 22 - 23 city, or some such. On the flip side, nice that BMW is actually talking about fuel economy.... :)
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      This was the easy part, BMW. Now get ready for the class action lawsuit headed your way. Crime doesn't pay.
      Dave R
      • 2 Years Ago
      Could be as simple as the EPA testing a non-Standard model equipped with 225/45-18 vs the 225/50-17 wheels/tires... I am always surprised that models with different wheel/tire packages get the same EPA rating - for example, it is well known that the Prius with 17" wheels/tires is up to 5% less efficient (2-3 mpg) than the same car with 15" wheels/tires.
      winc06
      • 2 Years Ago
      335i ignored. The six cylinder turbocharged 300 hp model also took a huge leap in becoming more fuel efficient.It went from 19 city 28 highway. Ironically it has the same figures, 23 city 33 highway, as the new figures for the 4 cylinder. Hard to believe that a much larger and more powerful engine gets the same mileage as the 4 cylinder entry level engine.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @winc06
        335i and 135i owners that write about their MPG on BMW enthusiast boards regularly say they get combined MPG well below both the city and highway figures. There is always the rogue person who says they get awesome MPG, but these are the exceptions that prove the rule. The issue is that the EPA test is done at the exact same rate of acceleration no matter what car is tested. And in the real world, very few BMW enthusiasts accelerate at EPA speeds, or stick to EPA speed limits. So a 4-cyl that is pushed hard to accelerate may burn more gas accelerating than a big turbo 6 that doesn't need to be pushed hard at all to accelerate at the same rate. But in real life, the mileage numbers don't play out that way. Because when you have a big turbo 6, most owners blast up an interstate on-ramp, not match their speed with a Prius PHEV trying to stay in battery-only mode as long as possible.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PR
          I sometimes wonder if the 'rogue' person isn't a plant. I mean, every now and then on some tech boards, you see, "Why, I thought Vista was great! It never crashed for me!" or "Internet Explorer rocks." I have usually gotten the promised mileage, within a mile per gallon or two on cars I have owned, but that might be my driving style. I would guess that BMW's may have a bigger range due to that. If one buys it because it is the 'ultimate driving machine' - then one might drive it as such. But if a person buys it for luxury purposes, they may drive it in a more easy going manner. Your 2nd paragraph is probably the key. I had a friend that bought a Firebird Formula once. Your last sentence is exactly it. Going up the ramp we were at 105mph - then he gunned it (it hadn't been gunned on the ramp, evidently) and we were quickly at 140mph. Oddly, for me, I had fun with my Escape Hybrid when I got an extra mile out on pure electric. To each his own, I guess....
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hope the EPA issues a stiff fine to discourage this type of behavior otherwise it allows manufacturers to fudge numbers to increase sales. If the EPA catches fudged numbers that still leaves a lot of vehicle misinformation in articles on the internet.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Hyundai Marketing got away with it, so why shouldn't BMW Marketing try the same?
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Was this test done with 100% regular gasoline or premium gasoline or e15. Bmw recommend premium grade gasoline much of the time. Probably e15 gave 20 mpg with more pollution and also a food crisis. I recommend to postpone any expenditure toward bmw till they can have 40 mpg city 50 mpg highway with regular gasoline.
        Austin Too
        • 2 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        All fuel economy testing is done using pure gasoline of the grade recommended by the manufacturer, so ethanol is not an explanation of variance. EPA on its fueleconomy.gov site tells consumers they can expect a 3-4% fuel economy degradation with E10.
      Tysto
      • 2 Years Ago
      Meh. The only thing of interest here is that, 15 years later, people are still excited by mileage figures that are only 70% of those of the Prius.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      "The EPA recently tested the 2012 328i Automatic and obtained a highway mileage result that was 3m pg lower (33mpg versus 36mpg) than the BMW test result. We are very surprised by this result and are currently working to determine how this is possible." Busted.
        PeterScott
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Yeah, that is what I was thinking. 85% of MPG numbers are submitted by the manufacturer. BMW just lost the lotto and got tested for real.
      Austin Too
      • 2 Years Ago
      This result does not mean that BMW was cheating; in fact, I would highly doubt that this is the case. To the best of my knowledge, in all the years that these tests have been run and audited by the EPA, I can only remember one case many years ago where a manufacturer (GM) confessed to a problem (I believe it was a code in their EEC module specifically geared to the EPA test). 1. The tests are run by the manufacturers under very controlled circumstances in a laboratory on a dyno. All the exhaust gasses are collected and precisely measured. Each manufacturer runs the tests themselves, and the testing is done by trained technicians running a prescribed route which is shown on a display. 2. EPA audits around 10-15% of the vehicles annually in their lab in Ann Arbor. As BMW mentions, due to car-to-car variability and probably some variability from lab-to-lab, there can be minor differences. 3. Sometimes (also due to car-to-car variability), a manufacturer can have a "flyer" -- a car that is doing exceptionally well in the testing. Although they can certify to this vehicle, and the test is technically sound, the manufacturer takes the risk that the outcome will not be typical which could result in customer dissatisfaction, or a potential audit. If I had to guess, I'm thinking this is what happened in this case, but you can be sure that BMW and the EPA are having discussions to sort it out. 4. Of course a good test result also helps the manufacturer in achieving mandated CAFE. BMW has consistently fallen short and has had to pay CAFE fines. If the test was done honestly as I assume, there is no penalty or fine for this resatement of fuel economy..
      PR
      • 2 Years Ago
      Funny how BMW is trying to play the victim card after getting busted, as if the EPA were the ones who errored.
      Pandabear
      • 2 Years Ago
      Typical German culture: they never admit they made a mistake or lied.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Pandabear
        Huh? As any BMW SA will tell you, the car is perfect. The EPA didn't drive the car properly to obtain the proper performance.
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