I realize these three articles from USA Today are a bit dated but I think they illustrate that the more we buy Hybrids the more the Ad Writers will come under increasing pressure. They must be more honest or the government will move to make them more honest to the consumer.
I draw your attention to parts of the second article which states that tests are conducted at a room temperature of 75 degrees and Hybrids (and more so EVs) are known for performing at a much lower efficiency level at lower temperatures. Secondly, City Tests are 21-40 MPH and Highway 40-60 MPH (not real life today). My Escape's Mileage decreases markedly with each degree drop in operating outside temperature. Obviously, I look forward to Summer.
Drivers upset as hybrids fall short on fuel economy
Getting 10%-15% less than posted
by James R. Healey | Jun 11 '04
So many people have complained about disappointing fuel economy of gas-electric hybrid cars that the federal government is telling automakers to consider putting more realistic mileage labels on their cars or do a better job warning buyers that they won't get the advertised mileage.
Poor fuel economy has been among hybrid owners' top gripes, according to consultant J.D. Power and Associates, as much as three times as high as for other small cars and even surpassing that of owners of gas-thirsty sport-utility vehicles.
The Environmental Protection Agency has talked with hybrid makers "about our concerns over the complaints," says Chris Grundler, deputy director of EPA's transportation and air quality office.
EPA testing rates hybrids at 47 to 63 miles per gallon in combined city-highway driving, depending on model and equipment. Honda and Toyota, the only hybrid sellers, don't dispute that hybrids fail to deliver that. But they say hybrids' fuel-economy shortfall isn't much different from that of gas engines.
"Most of our cars get 10% to 15% less than the EPA (rating) in the real world," says Toyota spokesman Mike Michels. "A 10% to 15% variance looks a lot bigger on a 55-mpg (hybrid) car than on (a gas-power) one that gets 15 or 20."
Grundler says manufacturers can publicize any fuel economy numbers as long as they are no higher than what the vehicles receive from EPA. "They would simply print a different label based on information they have developed."
Hoping to clarify things for automakers, EPA is taking the unusual step of circulating this statement: "Long-standing EPA policy allows manufacturers to voluntarily use lower fuel-economy label values when they believe that a vehicle may be inappropriately represented by the EPA-calculated label."
But nobody's willing to go first. "If your competitor is advertising EPA (fuel economy ratings) and you're not, you're at a disadvantage," Honda spokesman Andy Boyd says. Instead, Honda has "definitely been stepping up our efforts" to tell buyers they might not get the fuel economy they expect.
The risk of disappointing mileage-conscious hybrid buyers will grow as more hybrids hit the market later this year.
"The last thing we want to do is discourage further development and market penetration of this (fuel-saving) technology," Grundler says.
"Potential reputation damage to the technology is a very valid point. We hope that doesn't come out of this," Michels says.
Surprising ways EPA tests fuel economy
by James R. Healey | Aug 18 '04
Fuel-economy estimates have been posted on new vehicles since 1975 models. They were intended as a guide to motorists seeking the best-possible fuel economy in the wake of the 1973 Arab oil embargo that caused gasoline shortages in the USA.
The tests today use better equipment but otherwise mimic those of the '70s. Human drivers operate the cars on dynamometers in test rooms kept at 75 degrees. The drivers match their speed, braking and idling to what's shown on a computer screen.
The test fuel is the same blend and quality sold by gas stations. But each batch is tested for consistency so that all tests are done with gas that's as close to identical as possible.
EPA says the city portion of the test averages about 21 mph and includes 23 stops.
Speed in the highway portion generally stays above 40 mph and tops out a tick below 60 mph.
"The drivers are very good. The test results in general are very repeatable, usually within 1% or 2% and always within 3%," says Tom Schrodt of EPA's Laboratory Operations Division.
Perhaps surprisingly, fuel consumption never is directly measured.
It is calculated by analyzing the exhaust samples collected from each vehicle to see if anti-pollution regulations are being met.
"We don't drive it around the block and refill the tank. It's much more precise," says Chris Grundler, deputy director of EPA's office of transportation and air quality and head of the EPA lab in Ann Arbor, Mich., where testing is conducted.
"We can very precisely determine the amount of carbon in a gallon of gasoline, and we can precisely measure the amount of carbon that's left in the exhaust, allowing us to very accurately measure the amount of fuel consumed," Schrodt says.
"It's superior to any other way of trying to measure fuel consumption."
Outdated car-mileage tests steer buyers off course
Aug 20 '04
Today's debate: Vehicle fuel economy
Our view: Motorists' world has changed dramatically since 1974 tests adopted.
When car buyers go into a dealership, they view the sticker price as little more than a starting point for haggling. By contrast, the other numbers in the window -- estimates of the car's mileage in highway and city driving -- are considered immutable, scientific facts.
But as USA TODAY reported Wednesday, consumers can't trust the mileage numbers, either. Hard as it is to believe, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's test for estimating mileage hasn't changed since 1974, just after the nation's first oil crisis. The ratings don't account for vast changes in driving habits since then, ranging from faster highway speeds to more stops and starts on increasingly crowded roads.
As a result, the tests likely overstate the actual mileage vehicles get. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Energy Department data show that U.S. drivers average 10% worse mileage than the EPA numbers indicate. That amounts to an additional $20 billion a year in fuel costs for the nation.
The consumer's loss is a gain for the auto industry, which is opposed to revising mileage tests to make them more consistent with today's driving conditions. Why? Higher mileage figures help carmakers sell bigger vehicles that guzzle more gas -- and produce higher profits.
Sticking with flawed mileage estimates for so long is proof that the government, not to mention normally vigilant consumer and environmental groups, has been asleep at the wheel. The problem first came to light two years ago, when a little-known environmental group called the Bluewater Network filed a detailed analysis of why the tests need to be changed.
At a time when world oil prices are nearing a record $50 a barrel, consumers who want to make a sound decision on which vehicles to buy at least should expect an accurate estimate of how much gas they burn.
Instead, they get estimates that assume:
* Everyone's in the slow lane. The EPA tests assume no one drives more than 60 miles per hour. That may have been a valid assumption in 1974, when President Nixon signed legislation creating a national speed limit of 55. But since 1995, states have set the limits, often 65 or higher. And many drivers routinely cruise at 75 or more.
* Drivers are hot. The EPA tests don't account for air conditioning, which can cut mileage by as much as 21%. Yet virtually all cars now have air conditioning that can run steadily, especially in the South and West.
* Traffic's the same. U.S. roads have become much more congested in the past 30 years, resulting in more stop-and-go driving. But the 11-mile, 31-minute city-mileage test has not changed. Some critics also claim that the city tests underestimate the number of short trips today's drivers take. These hops decrease mileage because a car consumes a lot of fuel each time it's started.
The automobile industry defends the current standards, saying consumers should realize that their mileage may vary depending on how they drive. They point out that the EPA ratings include a range of low and high mileage to reflect different factors.
While mileage does vary greatly depending on driving habits, location and traffic, that's no excuse to continue using a rating system that is so out of date with road life in the real world.
The EPA, to its belated credit, is finally looking into whether it needs to adjust its calculations.
That should be a no-brainer. In these days of high gas prices, consumers deserve to know just how painful it will be every time they pull up to the pump.
___The second barrage is aimed at todayís drivers in todayís automobiles. I donít know where there are 75 mph speed limits but if a consumer is *****ing because he or she is driving from 0 - 60 in < 13 seconds from each and every stop sign/light, passing like he or she is in a Beemer on the Autobahn, or driving well beyond the speed limits no matter where that is, it is the drivers problem, not the EPA or the automobile manufacturer.
___Let me rant here for a bit Ö I do not know where the answer lyeís but every time I look over the Real Hybrid Mileage Database and I see the 4 Escape HEVís, I also cringe. Give me a 2WD Escape HEV for a month in warmer weather and I will shoot that SOBís FE into the heart of the Prius II averages. Well, at least into the lower 30% anyway. I am not blaming you, FMC, or the Escape HEV itself but if you have followed my postings around Greenhybrid or around the web, I get a bit peeved when these marvels (all of todayís automobiles, not just hybridís) are not driven to their potentials in order to tell the world that not only can a hybrid make a difference but the driver can make a difference in whatever we all drive today. Give me a video camera in a multitude of automobiles with either an instantaneous game gauge or the rudimentary average FCDís many come with today and I can show every drivers Ed instructor in the country in real time what fast and slow acceleration, fast and slow decelerations, automobile setups, the 4 types of drafts, driving with load, and simple speed costs in real $ís and real gallons of gasoline. This knowledge is simply too important to let sit in the Hybrid forums imho. To go along with this, I even have to defend my own FE posts in Insight Hybrid forums of all things because some opposites refuse to learn, listen, read, or believe what is posted including pics of our dashís and corroborating evidence supporting our actuals. Then again, maybe I donít want a video camera in the car as many simply wonít drive like us hypermilers given we do tend to push the envelope just as hard as those driving way over the limits in heavy traffic conditions as an example Ö sometimes
___Unfortunately, the most popular hybrid right now is the Prius II and for whatever reason, it is the hardest Hybrid to hit its combined. I have done it from cold in 32 degree F temps during a 5 mile test drive but it wasnít nearly as easy to accomplish as in the 4WD Acura MDX, the 2WD Ford Ranger P/U, the Honda Insight 5-speed, the Corolla LE w/ Auto, the 2WD Mercury Mountaineer, the Buick LeSabre, and the Honda Accord. More then likely this is because the way the Prius II rides its pack in the 68 - 75 degree test chamber of the EPA Ö
___Sorry for the rant but there is quite a bit bigger fish to fry then just Hybridís not meeting EPA estimates in articles that pop up every once in a while.
I can really say from personal experience that EPA numbers are inflated for every vehicle if driven like a normal person would. If you will look at my milage database and las winter/spring you will see that i was recieving 24-26 in a car rated for 29 in city. That is a 10-15% loss from EPA. Last winter/spring i really had no idea how to drive for fuel efficiency...but i wasnt a lead foot. I think the reason that people are complaning about the fuel efficiency of the hybrids comes from three reasons 1:There is a meter that tells you what you are getting 2: People are scheptical and love to complain 3: 10-15% of a car getting 47 mpg is a 5-7 mpg drop...instead of a 1-5 mpg drop seen from a normal I.C.E. engine. I realize that this hasnt been a very structured response, but i hope it will shed some light on the reasons that claims of hybrid advertisers being crooked are false.
I was driving today with a friend in the car, who'd never been a hybrid before. He asked about the MFD, and what it was showing. I explained that it provided feedback -- both instant, over time, and for the life of the fuel tank -- about the fuel consumption of the vehicle.
He replied that he thought it was neat. I said it was neat, and very interesting to have that instant feedback on how your driving habits are impacting your vehicle's consumption. But that it also has its frustrations... most notably right now, as my tank mileage suffers at about 6.3 L/100 after 150 km of mostly short trips on this tank. It's a mixed blessing, having that kind of feedback.
I wonder how many drivers, regardless of what vehicle they drive, would be lining up outside their dealership and screaming blue murder if they knew exactly how their vehicle was performing compared to the ridiculous "mileage" numbers published by the government, both in the States and in Canada.
Me.... I just look forward to this weekend, when I have the chance to go for a nice four or so hour-long drives on the highway. I never thought I'd say this again after moving from the '01 to the '04... but I really look forward to seeing a "5" as the first digit in my fuel consumption number again....
Just like some people expect diet food to do it all, make no other changes, then complain about the diet food to the FDA and news media.
Some folks buy a hybrid and expect the car to do it all.
Please note that I am NOT talking about people who really DO make an effort with thier vehicles to improve........I mean the ones who must continue to just "Gas it" and then complain to everyone who will listen.
Efficient drivers do it better. 1003 miles a tank personal record. 74MPG calculated. HCH1 CVT
Never apologize for "Rants" Wayne. They are the very best expression of heartfelt feelings. In the FEH the only drag on MPG in the All-Wheel Drive in normal driving is the weight of the drive shaft. I am not a normal driver because I still experiment with my 4WD Ford SUV and maximize MPG...so I get near 30 most of the time in highway driving. And I am happy with that.
But we have to keep pushing the point on this forum that Hybrids are a change in driving life style and 'normal drivers' new to this will have to change their habits if they want to achieve either/or both less vehicle emmissions and/or better MPG than the gas-only car they are driving now. If they want to believe the hype and just jump in and continue what they have learned before they will be disappointed. Better to just keep driving what they have now.
Mike Maline - Sdctcher
2005 Ford Escape Hybrid Owner
California School Teacher
I would dissagree with the statement concerning that people would be better of staying with what they have FE (and to a point) Emissions wise. Lets say someone drives a civic...ehh, rated about 28/38. That same person decides the would like the added FE of a HCH, so they get one rated (someone correct me if i'm wrong) 48/47. If they drive like a normal person they will see a 10-15% drop in FE from EPA in both cars. So they will see a gain in FE, it just won't be as apperant because they could not actually see what FE they were getting in the I.C.E. civic, most people naturally assume that they get EPA. It is when they can actually see (instentanious and trip meters) that they are getting bellow EPA that they freak out.
I drove my last car, a Dodge Spirit hard and ignorantly believed it really didn't matter too much, as far as FE is concerneed.
I thought "Sure I burn more fuel but get there faster so it's a tradeoff"
I didn't know what the EPA Est even was for the car.
I normally filled 16 gallons 3x a week @ around 16-17MPG.
Cruise control set at the speed limits were boring, and it only achieved about 20MPG.
In my case I bought my HCH when I had been in the new car market for over a year.
I think I made an excellent decision. The instrumentation and the potential built into my car makes it fun to develop the skill. A new mindset so to speak.
If I was not willing to change my driving habbits, if I was still the agressive, sometimes dangerous driver of old, I'd likely be complaining.
Efficient drivers do it better. 1003 miles a tank personal record. 74MPG calculated. HCH1 CVT
___Just to bring you up to speed on what has been discussed in the past and by no means did I mean to single out the Escape Hybrid Ö It is simply a pet peeve of mine with these uninformed writers, editors, and articles is all