EPA to Revamp its Mileage Ratings Testing

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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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