Toronto, Ontario – Canada needs to revise its official fuel consumption ratings for new vehicles, which consistently promise better mileage than the vehicle is able to deliver in real-world driving, according to the Automotive Protection Agency (APA). Identical vehicles sold in Canada and the U.S. have government-approved fuel consumption ratings that are 15 to 20 per cent apart.

As an example, the APA said that the Toyota Yaris is rated at 5.5 L/100 km in Canada, but at 6.7 L/100 km in the U.S., a difference of 22 per cent. This works out to about 7 miles per Canadian gallon less using the U.S. rating, which is much closer to what Yaris owners report their vehicles actually consumed.

The APA and the CBC selected 13 popular 2012 models and compared their Canadian and U.S. fuel ratings, which can be found by clicking on CBC.

Fuel consumption ratings are achieved by driving the vehicle on a “rolling road” in a laboratory under ideal conditions. Acceleration is leisurely and the highway speed of 90 km/h is about 20 per cent slower than the average on Canadian highways. The result is an optimistic projection with a theoretical range in highway driving of 700 to 800 km on a tank. Most vehicles tested by the APA manage 500 to 650 km, so the consumer is being “shorted” about 100 km per tank compared to the numbers in the ads, the APA said. The APA also said that dealers and carmakers know this, but “they hide behind the veneer of ‘government’ or ‘Transport Canada’ approval for the numbers to make their pitch.”

Canada and the U.S. use the same test procedure to calculate city and highway fuel consumption ratings, but in 2007, the U.S. modified its calculations to take into account more realistic driving speeds, temperature and the use of air conditioning. Posted consumption increased by 15 to 25 per cent for most vehicles, and consumer complaints about fuel ratings fell.

There is no government testing in Canada, the APA said. It is performed by the carmakers for the North American market, with numbers supplied to Canadian and U.S. authorities.

For provinces with “green” levies, the APA recommends accepting the current, optimistic number for gas guzzler penalties so that the change is taxation neutral. Alternatively, the provincial guidelines could be modified to reflect new and more realistic numbers, so the public is not penalized when several vehicles move into higher consumption brackets.

When shopping for a vehicle, the APA suggests that drivers use the city rating as a prediction of what the vehicle will actually return in mixed driving, or use the U.S. fuel consumption figures.

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