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EPA May Reevaluate MPG Testing For Hybrids After Misleading C-MAX Numbers

By Sean Kane , Mar 08, 2013 07:38 AM EST
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The EPA may be reevaluating how it tests hybrid cars for fuel efficiency.

The agency is rethinking its evaluation of the advanced cars that run on both gasoline and electric power after a number of cars, like the Ford C-MAX and Fusion models, did not meet the fuel efficiency posted by the EPA in high profile reviews.

“This is a different type of hybrid, and we need to understand it,” Chris Grundler, the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality director, told USA Today. The regulatory agency rated the Ford C-MAX and Fusion at 47 mpg for both city and highway driving, but the actual numbers were considerably lower. Consumer Reports found the cars’ fuel economy to be 37 mpg and 39 mpg overall, respectively. CleanMPG tested the C-MAX in a rigorous efficiency study, and found that the hybrid only achieved a combined 39 mpg. And while these numbers are certainly good (especially for an American car), they are not even close to the numbers that Ford is plastering on billboards across the country.

Grundler said that one of the issues that needs addressing is new hybrids’ sensitivity, which can heavily affect fuel efficiency: “If you drive a hybrid the way you drive your Porsche, you are going to get less [gas mileage] than the national average.”

The EPA plans on running another test on the C-MAX in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Ford has no issue with additional tests on its car.

“We agree with the EPA that hybrid fuel-economy performance industrywide can be more variable compared to conventional vehicles,” Ford spokesman Said Deep said. “We are open to working with the agencies to further improve the process for generating fuel-economy labels.”

As USA Today explains, most fuel economy testing is done by carmakers, but must follow guidelines set by the EPA. The agency retests about 15 percent of cars to make sure the rules are being followed.

Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai have also come under fire for misrepresenting their MPG numbers, and the EPA ordered they lower their efficiency numbers after finding inflated numbers.

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