With recent claims by consumers that their hybrid vehicles aren’t living up to the standard set on the Environmental Protection Agency / Department of Energy [EPA/DOT] Fuel Economy and Environment label, some updating of the testing rules needs to be done.
Updating indeed, as the regulation currently in use was implemented in 1970, long before hybrid electric vehicle technology was ever on the scene. Given that the internal combustion engine hasn’t changed all that much in operation, why change the fuel economy rating rules? Of course, with the introduction of hybrid vehicles, the conventional method doesn’t always work.
The Ford C-Max hybrid, for example, was rated at 47mpg, but it wasn’t actually tested by the EPA and found to be 47mpg. According to the EPA rules, Ford is allowed to use the fuel economy ratings of the best-selling vehicle in the same class. In this case, the best selling mid-size hybrid is the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Now, one look at the aerodynamic differences alone would tell you that there is no way the C-Max is going to get the same fuel economy as the Fusion, but it fit in the rules.
The fuel economy problem has gotten so great that Ford is now facing lawsuits and a lot of customer disappointment. They’ve recently reduced the Ford C-Max fuel economy rating to 43mpg and is giving a $550 rebate to anyone who has purchased one, as well as $325 to anyone who leased one. Good move, on the part of Ford, but I think they should have simply tested the C-Max on its own.
The EPA and DOT need to do some updating as automakers strive to meet the fuel economy requirements of the latest Corporate Average Fuel Economy [CAFE] regulations. There’s no word yet on when or what the EPA is going to do, but the change is long overdue. In the meantime, make sure you brush up on your fuel-efficient driving habits, which benefit no matter what you drive.