FTC Resumes Review Of Fuel Economy Advertising Guidelines

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
ftc resumes review of fuel economy advertising guidelines

The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to resume its review of fuel economy claims in advertising by automakers and dealers, and whether or not the agency should revise the 40-year-old guidelines governing them.

The Detroit News reports the FTC had been considering making changes to the Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles since 2009 to help “marketers avoid deceptive or unfair claims” such as those that befell Hyundai, Kia and Ford over the past few years. The agency paused in 2011 until after the Environmental Protection Agency’s new fuel economy labeling requirements were in place, as well as to look over its own Alternative Fuel Rule.

The FTC plans to go over general and unspecified fuel economy claims in advertising, as well as define Combined Fuel Economy for electric vehicles, all in an effort to remove outdated language and establish clearer information on advertised economy going forward. It is currently asking for comments on updates to reflect the new EPA guidelines and MPG claims, and the need for guidance on alternative fuel vehicle claims. The comments are due by July 10.

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  • Plee Plee on May 02, 2014

    I work part time as a driver at a large auto auction, usually work lanes with 3 year old to current Nissan products and Ford products. I push the fuel economy reading on the trip computers just to see what is there. I realize that this is random but I do not think that most people keep resetting their fuel mileage settings so the numbers have some credibility. These are lease turn ins and daily rental vehicles. Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape invariably show 21-25 mpg, Ford Explorer high teens, Ford Edge low 20,s, Taurus 19-22, C-Max high 30,s to low 40,s. Usually a Focus or Fiesta shows mid 30,s. Most Infiniti cars show high teens, QX 56 14 or 15mpg. My opinion is that only combined MPG numbers should be allowed in advertising, this would be much more indicative of what people could expect, not the ridiculous highway numbers.

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    • Conslaw Conslaw on May 02, 2014

      In the mid-80s car manufacturers were advertising highway MPG only under standards that were much more inflated than today. (Nobody got 40 MPG in a Chrysler K-car.) The FTC cracked down and made them either advertise both or the combined number, and that solved the problem for awhile. I don't know what made them only advertise highway MPG again. (This doesn't really apply to the C-Max controversy, because, pre-adjustment, highway and city were both 47.) Another area where we've backslid is lease advertising. They advertise the payment in big numbers, but other essential terms are either in small print or not in the advertisement at all. A one year lease at $199 a month, but with 2,400 down is effectively a $399/month lease.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on May 02, 2014

    In the smaller vehicles I've owned I've had no problem reaching the "combined" mileage, but in the larger cars I've tended to have trouble. I'm not sure what this says about anything, but it has been my observation since I began driving (and tracking my mileage).

  • Redav Redav on May 02, 2014

    I feel this is a serious issue and that the FTC should crack down on it. I hope that there is not only fines and public shaming, but also jail time any time an ad uses the term "Em-Pee-Gees."

  • 05lgt 05lgt on May 02, 2014

    MPG or l per 100km are both flawed by the assumption that all fuels are equal. Cars need the equivalent of an energyguide label allowing purchasers to compare fuel costs to operate without a spreadsheet. Ideally they could come up with 3 numbers for estimated annual fuel costs based on short commuter, mixed user, or highway cruiser. Someone who routinely drives SF to Redding isn't going to get any use from a hybrid system. Premium costs more than regular. Diesel and kW really bugger mpg comparisons. Of course OEM's will build to the standard if it gets used in purchasing decisions, so realistic assumptions on use and fuel costs are important.

    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on May 03, 2014

      Unless your hwy driving is all on perfectly flat ground there is a benefit to a hybrid on the freeway. Also the common hybrids can use an Atkinson cycle engine which is inherently more efficient at speed and w/o the boost of the hybrid system doesn't give acceptable driveability. For proof just compare the MPG of the Prius to similar sized vehicles or hybrid vs ICE Camry, Highlander, Fusion, Jetta or Accord.