EPA to Revamp its Mileage Ratings Testing

The Detroit Bureau

The EPA has repeat­ed­ly tried to adjust its test­ing pro­ce­dures to cope with the mileage prob­lem, as it seeks to reflect actu­al mileage more real­is­ti­cal­ly, and now it may just hap­pen.

Ford’s revi­sion of the C-Max hybrid’s mileage rat­ing is spurring EPA changes.

Ford’s revi­sion of the C-Max hybrid’s mileage rat­ing is spurring changes in how the EPA tests vehi­cles.

Ford Motor Co.’s announce­ment yes­ter­day that it would revise the fuel econ­o­my rat­ing of its C-Max Hybrid to more close­ly reflect the actu­al mileage the vehi­cles gets may have been the final push need­ed to change the way vehi­cles are test­ed.

The Dear­born, Mich.-based automak­er changed its offi­cial rat­ing from 47 mpg to 43 mpg and offered 32,000 C-Max dri­vers as much as $550 for their trou­ble. While the change is going to cost Ford for at least $12 mil­lion, it was the final push the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) need­ed to alter the sys­tem.

“We’re going to update gen­er­al-label­ing reg­u­la­tions,” Chris Grundler, direc­tor of the EPA’s Office of Trans­porta­tion and Air Qual­i­ty told USA Today. The update will cov­er “which vehi­cles need to be test­ed.”

Grundler also not­ed that the agency plans to increase the num­ber of vehi­cles it tests and is adding 30 employ­ees to do exact­ly that. He said it rep­re­sents a 40% increase in the num­ber of test­ing employ­ees.

The EPA has repeat­ed­ly tried to adjust its test­ing pro­ce­dures to cope with the mileage prob­lem, most recent­ly in 2008. It should be not­ed that Ford fol­lowed the rules when it came to test­ing the C-Max as well as when it used the 47 mpg fig­ure.

The EPA’s rules allow automak­ers to group sim­i­lar vehi­cles into cat­e­gories based on sim­i­lar engines, trans­mis­sions and weight class. Then use the high­est vol­ume vehi­cle in the class, which in the case of Ford was the Fusion hybrid. The Fusion hybrid, accord­ing to Raj Nair, Ford group vice pres­i­dent of glob­al prod­uct devel­op­ment, gets 47 mpg.

 

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