We’ve been trained to look at the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] sticker on any vehicle we’re considering buying. Important information there helps us make our purchasing decision, especially if fuel economy is important to us.
The fuel economy numbers, both on the window sticker or on the EPA website, fueleconomy.gov, are for most, a fairly good representation. Testing done by the EPA, though, isn’t “real-world,” and there is always the ubiquitous “Your mileage may vary” proviso based on weather, altitude, traffic, and most importantly, driver habit.
When hybrid electric vehicles came along, though, these tests needed some adjustment, start-stop technology, regenerative braking, and partial electric mode threw off all the standard methods of fuel economy measurements.
The EPA is slowly coming around, but now there’s a new kink in electrified vehicles, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles [EV]. The EPA’s still working out test methods for these new vehicles and might even make some retractions on fuel economy ratings, perhaps most famously on the recent Ford Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrids.
Edmunds.com recently talked about their real-world testing methods for EVs, which they’ve used for all their vehicle testing, including a 105.5-mile “test track” that includes not a smack of freeway. The Edmunds.com “One Lap of Orange County” includes straight and curvy sections, plenty of hills and traffic controls, and of course, traffic. In a recent series of EV tests, a single driver starts out each weekday at 8am in a different EV. Temperatures are mild, traffic is moderate, and where the road straightens out, he caps speed at 50mph.
Interestingly, the Edmunds.com real-world EV testing method actually gives better range and consumption figures to every EV they’ve tested. The Tesla Model S was pretty close to EPA, 269.3 miles tested vs. 265 EPA-rated, just 1.6% better [not including hypermilers]. Perhaps most impressive was the result for the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, which is EPA-rated at 103 miles, but was tested at 144.5 miles, a 40.3% better result. My question is, though, why isn’t the EPA doing real-world EV testing, or of any other vehicles types for that matter?