In the days of a gallon of gas costing more than $3.00, fuel economy numbers have taken a more important role in buying a new car. For some people, it is the No. 1 thing they look at when purchasing a car, and the EPA realizes this and is working overtime in the closing months of 2014 to make sure that what you see on the sticker is what you get in real life, according to an Auto News report.
One big issue at hand is what’s called the “coast-down” test. This test measures the aerodynamic and drivetrain drag as a car coasts from 80 mph to a stop. The data that is gathered is then entered into dynanometers to help better simulate real-world conditions when testing fuel economy. Unfortunately, the coast-down test is not standardized, resulting in a few automakers having inaccurate mpg numbers. The EPA looks to have a standard test for all automakers by the end of the year.
The coast-down test issues took center stage in recent years with Kia, Ford and Mercedes all having to adjust the mpg rating on select vehicles after they discovered errors in the test during audits. Ford found the issues from its own internal audit, but Mercedes and Kia were both busted by EPA audits.
The EPA is also going to end the practice of testing only one vehicle and using that fuel economy rating on all vehicles with the same drivetrain and similar weight. This means that automakers will need to test each and every trim level to account for varying weights. This will help give buyers a better idea of whether the additional weight of a fully loaded car will drop fuel economy. The downside to this is that it will require extra work from the automakers, which could result in slightly higher pricing.
The EPA plans to have all of these programs rolled out before 2015.