As emissions regulations get tighter, and fuel prices refuse to drop, improving fuel economy in automobiles is becoming both a regulatory and personal headache.
When shopping for a car, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Sticker Shock,” which typically refers to the difference between the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) on the sticker and the price you sign under on the contract. Today’s green vehicles, including high-mpg (miles per gallon) conventional vehicles, HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles) and PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), are competing for regulatory approval and consumer dollars.
For the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), automakers have to prove they’re meeting emissions regulations. For consumers, automakers have to deliver the highest mpg for the consumer’s needs. in both cases, there seems to have been some fudging of the numbers, leading to another form of “Sticker Shock” entirely. Automakers have turned to the old “Your Mileage May Vary” excuse, but this doesn’t always satisfy the EPA or the consumer. Last year, for overstating their fuel economy numbers, Hyundai and Kia had to pay back millions of dollars to dissatisfied consumers.
While some of these fuel economy discrepancies can be explained by differences in driver habit or fuzzy math, mpg- and emissions-conscious consumers want the real scoop. The EPA is working to adjust its own testing methods, which seems to coincide with a new company releasing fuel economy ratings of its own, Emissions Analytics, which releases its findings on Intellichoice. Mounting 170 pounds of equipment on a vehicle, test drivers run an 88-mile route over about two hours, covering different driving conditions, from school zone to freeway.
Emissions Analytics results are available for about a hundred vehicles tested. Apparently, the EPA’s updated test methods are getting closer to the real thing, at least for some vehicles, but other vehicles are still off the mark. For example, the 2013 Honda Fit is rated, by the EPA, at 33 mpg highway, while Emissions Analytics rated it at 37 mpg. On the other hand, the 2013 Honda Accord LX sedan is rated at 36 mpg highway, while independent testing measured only 34 mpg.
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