Fact Check: Motor Trend Needs To Research Fiat's "40 MPG" Car Commitment

fact check motor trend needs to research fiats 40 mpg car commitment

At the suggestion of a well-wisher, I picked up the July copy of Motor Trend for my flight back home Iowa yesterday. Though some of the stories showed improvement in that publication’s quality of coverage, the item pointed out by our tipster [online here] was disappointing indeed. The piece, on Fiat’s ongoing acquisition of Chrysler’s equity includes the following paragraph:

Fiat is expected to obtain another 5 percent of Chrysler soon to bring its interest to 51 percent, provided it introduces a 40-mpg (highway) EPA-rated car built in the U.S. wearing a Chrysler brand badge before the end of 2011. With Fiat and Chrysler pulling the plug on electric car development, the 40-mpg car is likely to be a 1.4-liter Multijet-powered Dodge Caliber. The Caliber is scheduled for replacement in model year 2013, so the Multijet version could be a 2012 model only, with the powertrain carried on to its replacement.

So, what’s the problem? Well, as TTAC (and precisely nobody else) has reported, the government’s agreement with Fiat is not for that firm to build “a 40-mpg (highway) EPA-rated car.” It takes some digging through the corporate agreement between Fiat, Chrysler, the UAW and the Treasury, but it’s clear that the government requires that Fiat build a car that tests at 40 MPG combined, using the old “unadjusted” (Pre-1985) CAFE fuel economy rating. Which means that, although Fiat could build a car capable of 40 MPG EPA highway, the government’s agreement requires as little as 31 MPG EPA Combined. Which means M/T’s write-up technically falls on the wrong side of the truth. Although, to be fair, I have yet to find a media outlet that has got this story right…

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  • Speed_3 Speed_3 on Jun 09, 2011

    You would think that when they said 40mpg they meant 40mpg and not 31mpg. Whatever. I was confused as well and just assumed it meant 40mpg hw. Obvi Motortrend got this wrong (as they so often do).

  • Shaker Shaker on Jun 09, 2011

    I don't think that a vehicle of the Caliber's height could achieve 40 mpg ("real numbers") unless it has a diesel - too much wind resistance.

  • ToolGuy 16.9 gallon fuel tank (~15 usable in the real world) combined with abysmal fuel economy means the range of your girlfriend's EV will look pretty good by comparison. 😉
  • ToolGuy Cadillac should make a list of everyone who gets excited by this announcement, and never listen to those people again.
  • Jkross22 My use case is perfect for an EV. I drive about 10 miles/day tops, have a home so I can recharge at night, love how much more efficient an EV is over its ICE counterpart and love the instant torque, quietness, lack of moving parts/reliability/cost of maintenance. I'm the poster child for EV ownership.But I don't have one and don't see buying one anytime soon. As intriguing as they are, there is no way in Haiti I'm dropping 50 large minimum to buy one. Not gonna happen. The Bolt looks like a toe, I really don't like Tesla interiors, I love the Lucid and Polestar 2, the H/K electrics are interesting but look at the price of all of these.
  • ToolGuy The only good thing about this car is the wheelbase.
  • MaintenanceCosts So someone really did build that car I drew while not paying attention in second grade. Too bad they screwed it up so badly.