"Real-World" Mileage Requirement Rankles Auto Industry

Senate bill would require the EPA to study the difference between its tests and how vehicles actually perform.

Published: 09-Mar-2002

DETROIT - A little-noticed clause in a U.S. Senate bill aimed at raising the fuel economy of cars and trucks would give automakers an additional hurdle to overcome by making government mileage tests more closely match what drivers get on the road.

The current method used by the government to estimate a vehicle's fuel economy produces two sets of numbers - one for automakers and regulators, and a lower set for consumers to see on window stickers that estimates real-world results. According to data used for the federal fuel economy program, automakers averaged 24.5 miles (39.4 km) per gallon in vehicles sold during the 2001 model year. But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which conducts the tests, the adjusted average for 2001 was 20.4 mpg (32.8 kpg).

The Senate bill would require the EPA to study the difference between its tests and how vehicles actually perform and come up with a plan to reduce the error to less than 5 percent by 2015.

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