Submitted by Tim Carroll as part of our contributors program.
Posted on George Kennedy
Kia and Hyundai were recently forced to lower their fuel economy figures, as the EPA is suggesting that the two companies may have posted false fuel economy numbers. This follows a year or more of customers claiming that they were not achieving fuel economy anywhere close to those stated by Kia or Hyundai. Which raised the question- doesn’t the EPA test these cars? Well, with all thing in automotive regulation, its a little hazier than that…
-The two Korean automakers had been lauding their impressive 40MPG cars like the Hyundai Accent, Veloster and Elantra. Those numbers are being adjusted to either 37 or 38 MPG, bringing the numbers more in line with realistic driving conditions. So how did this happen?
We were a little startled to learn that the Environmental Protection Agency, which posts these numbers does not test each car individually. Bascially, the EPA outlines how the testing is to be done, the OEMs test the vehicles and submit their findings, which the EPA merely signs off on.
That would be fine if it were advertised as that, but the way the numbers are always presented as “EPA fuel economy numbers” gives the impression that these are the EPA findings, which they are not.
In this system, it behooves an automaker to create a car that performs very well in the fuel economy test cycle, even if real world driving conditions yield lower MPG figures. It is not dissimilar to a teacher “teaching to the test” for standardized testing. Kia and Hyundai did not post these numbers in spite of the EPA system, but rather as a product of that system. Sure, there will be lawsuits brought against the two automakers, but the real issue is with the EPA, and its ability to just put a stamp of approval on numbers that it did not observe itself.
George Kennedy is the chief editor for BoldRide.com