European Gas Mileage Tests Move Farther From Reality
|   Sunday, June 03, 2012
It was a well-known reality to informed buyers that the European gas ratings are off the mark. They weren't that far away from reality, but still presented significant deviations. To compare against the established EPA rating in the US, you would have to bring down the European figures by 15-20 percent to get a real life account of how well the car will perform gas-wise.

That happens because the EPA tests take into consideration a lot of factors that everyday drivers encounter, thus the ratings presented by them are actually achievable.
Not so in Europe.

The International Council for Clean Transportation has performed a study in which it compared the real life figures obtained by cars with the official number and the difference was significant: 21 percent.

That is clearly a sign that someone has to take some measures to right things. According to Wards Auto, the difference was only 8 percent back in 2001. The ones in charge should take notice of this and change the way they perform their tests. If the situation goes unattended, buyers will definitively be in error when they buy a car. After all, how much fuel a vehicle eats is normally an important element to consider before buying a car.

What is even more scary is the car manufacturers are aware of the how the tests are conducted and adapted their cars to perform excellently in them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as no one can deny the advances made by cars in fuel efficiency and emission ratings, but it is clearly an abuse. Furthermore, the official number go into statistics which show us how much the auto industry has evolved and other such grand statements, while reality disagrees with them. The numbers of paper do not equal those in real life. Again, this is a worrisome fact and no one seems to care enough to do something about all this.

The test itself has the main blame in this: the New European Driving Cycle test uses fixed acceleration patterns, set shift points, identical speeds and identical braking patterns to ensure all cars go up against the same standards. A worthy effort, but it has little to do with real life driving; that is why the official ratings are so off track.

Of course, car makers should not be excused, as we have seen what they do to get better ratings, thus, better sales figures as people flock to buy the car with the best numbers. It is a vicious circle.

Well, in all this there is a piece of good news. It seems the European authorities are aware the tests now are not realistic and are collaborating with the UN to make a system that reflects real life driving conditions. These new tests would incorporate using the air conditioning, or using the daytime running lights, and how much the battery is charged in the case of EVs and hybrids.

Let's hope they get things right ASAP, so that buyers actually know what their car is capable of.
PHOTO GALLERY
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