EPA May Require Track Testing to Validate Automakers' Fuel Economy Claims | Edmunds

EPA May Require Track Testing to Validate Automakers' Fuel-Economy Claims


Just the Facts:
  • The EPA is considering regulations that would require automakers to track-test vehicles in order to validate their fuel economy claims.
  • An EPA spokeswoman told Edmunds the new test procedures "will help further ensure that the data used in EPA labels accurately reflect the vehicles consumers find on dealer lots."
  • The new regulations come in the wake of several instances in which manufacturers were found to have overstated the fuel economy of several models.

WASHINGTON — The EPA is considering regulations that would require automakers to track-test vehicles in order to validate their fuel economy claims.

An EPA spokeswoman told Edmunds: "EPA fuel economy labels are based on sophisticated laboratory testing, which allows precise control of many important variables that can affect fuel economy, and which yields data that are consistent, accurate, and repeatable in a way that real world driving can never be."

But as many drivers have found, your mileage may vary.

The latest EPA testing formula, implemented in 2008, helped reduce the difference between the mileage printed on window stickers and real-world consumer experience. In some cases, mileage claims — particularly for hybrid vehicles — were reduced by as much as 30 percent. Nevertheless, a gap still remains.

The proposed changes to the EPA requirements, which the spokeswoman said are "still in the consideration phase," would bring manufacturer claims closer in line with what consumers experience in day-to-day driving.

As the EPA spokeswoman explained: "EPA is considering requiring automakers to perform supplemental test-track audits of production vehicles to validate the values for aerodynamic drag and tire friction, which are important data inputs for our laboratory fuel economy testing. Augmenting EPA's existing pre-production procedures with post-production audits of real-world factors will help further ensure that the data used in EPA labels accurately reflect the vehicles consumers find on dealer lots."

Although other sources reported that the EPA was considering a requirement that manufacturers actually test vehicles on roads, rather than tracks, to confirm mileage claims, the spokeswoman emphasized: "EPA wants to clarify that we are not considering creating public roadway test procedures to replace laboratory testing."

The latest EPA testing standards under consideration come in the wake of several instances in which manufacturers were found to have overstated the fuel economy of several models.

As previously reported by Edmunds, the EPA required Ford to correct fuel economy labels on the 2013-'14 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Energi models, 2013-'14 Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi models and the 2013-'14 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid when those vehicles were found to have optimistic window stickers.

Hyundai and Kia said last year they will pay up to $395 million to settle consumer lawsuits related to overstated fuel economy ratings in the U.S.

Edmunds says: Consumers would certainly appreciate more accuracy in published fuel economy ratings.

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