Consumer Reports Pans ECO Models

Ford Focus 2012

MSNBC - June 4, 2012

Con­sumer Reports has pub­lished a study eval­u­at­ing the val­ue of sev­er­al “eco” mod­els that are being offered to fuel econ­o­my-con­scious con­sumers. The results are not good news for the automak­ers. The study’s con­clu­sion: the extra cost of these mod­els is not worth mon­ey.

Automak­ers are in a race against time as they rush to meet recent­ly accel­er­at­ed CAFE require­ments. One way to reach this fuel econ­o­my man­date is to wring every last mpg out of exist­ing mod­els and to appeal to envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious buy­ers. Plus by offer­ing ‘eco’ mod­els, automak­ers have a bet­ter fuel econ­o­my sto­ry to adver­tise to con­sumers.

The study points out that ‘eco’ mod­els make slight equip­ment changes to the base mod­el, like low rolling resis­tance tires, spoil­ers and sealed under­bod­ies. These ‘tweaks’ result in slight improve­ments to fuel econ­o­my at an addi­tion­al cost of $500 to $800 MSRP. It could take up to 38-years of nor­mal dri­ving to recov­er the extra costs. Con­sumer Reports did have some praise for the Ford Focus SFE which only takes 3.5-years to recov­er the cost of $495.

Pres­sure on automak­ers to improve fuel econ­o­my will con­tin­ue to grow in advance of the CAFE dead­line. They have their work cut out for them as gaso­line prices fall and sales of elec­tric vehi­cles fail to meet pro­jec­tions. Con­sumers have yet to be con­vinced to give up their trucks and SUVs.

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