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EPA Contemplating Changes to How Fuel Economy Ratings are Calculated for New Vehicles

June 8, 2004

The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing changes to the way it calculates fuel economy ratings posted on new cars and trucks to better reflect real-world driving conditions, according to the Detroit News on June 3. The review, which comes as concerns rise over escalating oil prices, could result in lower posted fuel economy ratings and potentially impact sales of profitable but low fuel economy pickup trucks and SUVs. Environmental groups argue that the actual fuel economy for today’s vehicles can be as much as 34 percent lower than the city and highway ratings posted on the windows of new cars and trucks. “Consumers are paying about $200 to $300 more each year for gasoline than the labels indicate may be required,” said Russell Long, executive director of San Francisco-based Bluewater Network, which petitioned the government in June 2002 to look at changes. Since the EPA last adjusted the formula for estimating vehicle fuel economy in 1984, highway speed limits have been raised and urban sprawl has created longer, more congested commutes. The EPA isn’t proposing any specific changes yet, reported the Detroit News. For now, regulators are seeking comments from automakers, motorists and others about real-world driving experiences. Any modifications likely wouldn’t occur until six months to a year after the comment period ends on July 27.
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