The Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy testing system is notoriously weak, relying on self-reporting for the vast majority of vehicles, and exhibiting vulnerabilities to “gaming.” But rather than attacking each others’ EPA numbers, automakers seem to have agreed that it’s best if everyone does their best to juice their own numbers and allows the imperfect system to limp on. But over at Automotive News [sub], we’re hearing what could be the first shots fired in a new war over EPA ratings, as Product Editor Rick Kranz reveals that an OEM is starting to complain about another OEM’s fuel economy ratings. He writes:
An executive of one U.S. automaker suggests there might be some sleight of hand going on and that the EPA is not catching the offenders.
The issue: There’s a noticeable difference between the mpg number posted on some cars’ window sticker and an analysis of the data submitted by automakers to the EPA.
The executive raised a red flag earlier this year. He told me his company was unable to replicate the city, highway and overall fuel economy numbers achieved by some automakers for their 2011 car models.
He didn’t name the automakers or the car models in question. Neither would he give the percentage differences between the mpg numbers posted on new-car window stickers and an analysis of the data taken from dynamometer readings his company purchased for certain competing models.
But he said consumers are being misled. The mpg numbers on some window stickers or in advertising are being misrepresented, he said.
1) The accusing executive has the wrong end of the stick, and is just lashing out without cause.2) The accusing executive is on to something and an automaker is fudging its EPA numbers.3) The accusing executive is on to something, and he’s just scratching the surface of a problem infecting a large part of the industry.