1 September 2005
Believing the guesstimates
Consumer Reports (October) is in a snit about fuel economy, specifically about the government-mandated mpg numbers that appear on the window sticker of new cars. According to CR, 90 percent of vehicles they tested failed to deliver the numbers on the sticker.
One reasonable complaint is that the EPA's test procedure, adopted in the 1970s, hasn't been updated to reflect changing driving conditions: combined fuel-economy ratings are still calculated on a 55-percent city, 45-percent highway mix, which is not always achievable in today's heavier traffic.
On the other hand, a couple pages into the story, they give away the game:
The mpg inflation has allowed automakers to trade fuel economy for performance features that draw buyers. Between 1987 and 2005, car and light-truck manufacturers slashed 0-60 acceleration times by 24 percent and bulked up average vehicle weight by 27 percent. Consequently, these vehicles got 1.1 fewer miles per gallon than they did in 1987.
"Draw buyers"? How dare they.
And if I got 24 percent faster from 0-60 in a car that weighed 27 percent more and it cost me only 1.1 mpg, I'd be delighted.
It gets better:
Automakers have lobbied against tougher standards, saying that higher mpg is technologically difficult to achieve and that they're making vehicles the public wants. If consumer demand were not a consideration, light trucks could be getting 28 mpg and cars, 38, says John German, manager of Honda's environmental and energy analysis. "The role of government is to create mandates or incentives so some of the ongoing engine-technology efficiency gains go to fuel economy and not just more horsepower."
Again with those damned customers.
Elsewhere in this issue, they seemed impressed with their Corvette, which returned "a respectable" 21 mpg. (EPA numbers are 18 city/28 highway with the 6-speed stick; they recorded 14/31.)
Then again, I have an underpowered car, out of which I routinely rev the living whee, and I still beat the government numbers. Maybe I should test the farging cars.Posted at 6:23 PM to Driver's Seat , Family Joules