The EPA has made few changes to the way it rates the fuel economy of cars since it began testing in 1971. And now, recent fuel-rating restatements by Ford, Hyundai and Kia over the past 13 months raised questions about the methods used by carmakers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Manufacturers put their own vehicles, which are usually pre-production prototypes, on treadmill-like devices called dynamometers and report results to the agency.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has used the disclaimer “your mileage may vary” to warn drivers that real-world fuel economy may not live up to its certified ratings. To prevent that mantra from becoming “but nobody gets that,” the agency is stepping up the portion of vehicles it reviews and confirms for mileage.
Also in the works is a data-customization project to allow drivers to search for what fuel economy they can realistically expect based on how aggressively they drive and under certain conditions.
“There is no higher priority for the EPA than to make sure that consumers have all the information they need when they’re making typically the second-largest purchase that they make,” Christopher Grundler, the agency’s top auto-industry regulator, said in an interview.
The EPA has generally audited about 10 to 15 5 of the vehicles at its own laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The agency is now reviewing and confirming 15 to 19 % in recent years, Grundler said.
The EPA plans to issue a proposal within the next year to close a loophole that gives the same rating to models that use the same engine and transmission and fall into the same weight class, even if they are a different size or shape, Grundler added.
Beyond this remedy, which addresses how Ford was allowed to assign the rating for its hybrid Fusion sedan to its C-Max wagon, the EPA has no plans to change how it rates cars powered by a combination of gas and electricity.