March 7, 2005

Group wants fuel consumption rating to reflect “real-world” driving

Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan group of more than two dozen lawmakers is proposing legislation that would force the EPA to change test procedures used to determine fuel economy ratings. The group says that no one gets the mileage posted on vehicle window stickers, or published in government fuel economy guides, when they are “real-world driving”.

If enacted, the bill would require the EPA tests to include more high-speed driving, more aggressive accelerating and stopping, more short trips, driving with the air conditioning on and testing at a variety of temperatures. The legislation is backed by a coalition of environmental groups and the American Automobile Association, which has 47 million members.

The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers told the EPA last year it did not oppose a review of the test procedures, but cautioned against a “quick fix” based on inadequate research.

Proponents of the legislation say it would not affect CAFE, the corporate average fuel economy program, whose standards automakers must meet or pay fines. But CAFE mileage figures are determined by EPA test procedures, which are generally conducted by the car companies and only checked by the regulators. CAFE is administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, not the EPA.

The EPA adjusts mileage figures downward for consumer information, used on both window stickers and in fuel economy guides. But critics say even the adjusted numbers are still far higher than what drivers normally achieve. Some environmentalists believe more realistic ratings would further pressure automakers to improve real fuel economy.

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