US: there’s a “secret” lab that reviews the automaker’s mileage claims image

You must have heard that over the recent months Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and BMW among others had to restate their window sticker EPA mileage ratings – and the changes had one source.

And that would be the Ann Arbor EPA lab that has 175 engineers acting like pseudo-cops because they audit fuel economy statements form automakers. The test facility also helps the Environmental Protection Agency to set new standards for the broad US auto industry.

They hold a lot of power in their hands… or computers. Passing mileage claims can help an automaker sell millions of vehicles more and vetoing them could lead to shameful statements (we all remember how Ford restated its plug-in hybrid mileage ratings) and billions of dollars in investments needed to achieve the tougher fuel standards.

Because the mpg audits performed in Ann Arbor have grown in importance over the years and still some carmakers managed to slip under the radar, the accuracy police at the EPA is upgrading its procedure to include more tests of key aspects of the vehicle. Established back in 1971 at Ann Arbor because it’s very close to Detroit’s automakers, the lab is the only federal facility in the country to perform fuel testing and it’s continuously expanding its capabilities as carmakers introduce new features and technologies.