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Hybrid Cars to Get New Mileage Ratings 781

Posted by samzenpus
from the creative-math dept.
Skidge writes "Wired is running a piece showing the drastically reduced mileage ratings for hybrids after the upcoming changes in gas mileage calculations by the EPA. While the cars themselves aren't changing, plugging these new numbers in to the equation makes a hybrid much less cost effective: "The two top-selling hybrid vehicles, the Prius and Honda's Civic Hybrid, will lose 12 and 11 miles per gallon respectively from their city driving estimates." The new values come from more realistic testing; the old, over-inflated ratings were higher in part because the cars idled a lot, allowing the hybrids to completely turn off their engines. The new ratings should be more in line with what hybrid drivers are actually seeing."
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Hybrid Cars to Get New Mileage Ratings

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  • Sampling? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by powerpants (1030280) * on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:23PM (#19115597)

    It's important to have accurate mileage ratings on cars, and it's hard to understand how the EPA could be so bad at it. Why do they try to estimate instead of just sampling?

    Here's a simple approach: When a car comes in for an oil change, read the mileage rating stored inthe on-board computer and upload it to an EPA database. Problem solved.

    • Re:Sampling? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kannibal_klown (531544) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:28PM (#19115685)
      Catch-22. They like to have a "real" number before the car starts selling, but via your method they'd need to sell enough to get an accurate sample.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by michrech (468134)
        Catch-22. They like to have a "real" number before the car starts selling, but via your method they'd need to sell enough to get an accurate sample.

        Many cars are driven around in "normal situations" by test drivers. Many car magazine photographers do their best to try to get snaps of these cars.. They could use the data from these cars to do their estimates. For cars that aren't test driven, they could start.

        My car (an '07 Caliber) was rated at "28 to 32 MPG". I consistently get 26 or less. :(
        • Re:Sampling? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Fozzyuw (950608) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:27PM (#19116919)

          My car (an '07 Caliber) was rated at "28 to 32 MPG". I consistently get 26 or less. :(

          Manual or Stick? Driving habits effect the ratings. Do you drive 65mph on a 65mph freeway or do you drive 75mph-80mph? Do you accelerate fast? Do you find yourself braking often? Think about it the next time you approach a stop-sign. Does your foot move from the accelerator directly to the brake when you want to stop? Or are you 'coasting' and letting your momentum slow you down before you start to brake? Do you speed quickly the the next red light just to stop, or do you slowly coast to it, even if all the other cars are 'rushing' to the red? Do you drive with your windows down or the air-conditioner on a lot (it creates more drag or needs more energy to use)?

          I bought a 2006 Pontiac Vibe (new) and just recently a 2007 Toyota Corolla (both awesome cars, though, I do wish the Vibe had a little more 'pep'). The Vibe was rated at 28-36 MPG if I remember right. I'm currently getting ~35MPG (mostly) highway (though it was closer to 31 MPG in the winter). The Corolla (while only having it for about a month now) is getting about 38 MPG (mostly) highway.

          Both of these are manual "stick" transitions. The fiancee drives the Corolla, I drive the Vibe. While I don't usually drive aggressively, I don't pussy-foot the cars when accelerating to highway speeds (winding out the RPMs pretty high). However, I do kick in the cruise control at speed limit speeds, occasionally 5-over. What I do try to do, and what I'm getting better at recognizing, is that I try not to 'waist' energy by having the car do more than it needs to do, particularly in braking. Lets put it this way, the more you use your brakes, the more energy you're waisting. (which is the theory behind Hybrids, to turn the brake heat/energy back into car energy). Better braking habits will not only help save some gas but also extend the life of your breaks.

          If your car is significantly getting much lower MPG than the rated amount, I would 1st) get it checked out by the dealership. 2nd) look at your own driving habits. If you're getting 26 MPG and you do pretty much all city driving, then I would say you're right on schedule (You can usually take off 1-2 MPG from the rating for 'real' estimates). If you want to raise your MPG, take a longer route in the city that makes you stop much less frequently. Stop/Go is the hardest on an engine and your millage efficiency.

          Cheers,
          Fozzy

          • Do you drive with your windows down or the air-conditioner on a lot (it creates more drag or needs more energy to use)?

            I've read that modern car air conditioning uses less energy than the additional aerodynamic drag created by driving with the windows open - although if the car is moving at low speed or sitting still then the economical choice is the windows, although they don't work as well to cool the interior of a car stopped or moving at low speed, unless it there is a good wind.

            Air conditioning systems
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by SoCalChris (573049)
              I would argue that windows have become far less efficient at cooling car interiors than in the past.

              Have you ever driven an older car that has wing windows? Or how about one that has vents that you can open, that let fresh air blow right on your lap/torso area.

              My first car was a 57 Ford sedan that had both of those, and growing up in a desert area of Southern California, it did a good enough job of keeping me cool that I never wished for a car with air conditioning.

              Modern cars are very noisy with t
          • Re:Sampling? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Smidge204 (605297) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:55PM (#19117531) Journal
            This is a rather important point many people don't understand. Driving the speed limit and driving defensively save gas.

            Some anecdotal evidence of mine... I drive a '93 Dodge van with over 220K miles on it. It has an onboard computer that tells me both instantaneous and average MPG, so I decided to experiment.

            Driving "normally" I got 11.3 MPG average over two weeks. Then I started using cruise control, whenever possible, set at the speed limit. Coasting whenever possible (I'm never in a hurry to get up to a red light anyway), not accelerating as hard and trying to avoid accelerating up hills. My next two-week average was 14.7 MPG.

            Since my average commute is a little over 5 miles, I'm nearly 2 gallons of gas per week less than before... or about $7/week at current prices. That's worth it IMHO.
            =Smidge=
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by drinkypoo (153816)

              This is a rather important point many people don't understand. Driving the speed limit and driving defensively save gas.

              What you apparently don't understand is that this varies from vehicle to vehicle.

              I have owned two vehicles now which get their best mileage around 80 mph. 1989 Nissan 240SX, which is one of the most aerodynamic vehicles on the planet (0.26cD) and a 1981 Mercedes 300SD Turbo Diesel.

              Aerodynamics, gearing, and torque curve combine to define the most efficient point. For some vehicles, espe

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aug24 (38229)
      Simple: because that would skew the sample towards mileage of people who either pay to have their oil changed or have it changed more regularly.

      Estimation is intended to produce a balanced result. Heavy on the 'intended', of course ;-)

      J.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by div_2n (525075)
      While technically a valid approach, this opens the door for red flags from privacy advocates. I'm not as paranoid as the most ardent advocates, but I can see where the slope starts getting slippery.

      Remember that the more avenues you open up for the government to have information about you, the more you open up the possibility of them doing things with it that you will not be happy about. History has shown that once you put more power and information in the government's hands, the likelihood of removing it i
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CrazyTalk (662055)
      Well that will tell them the mileage, but it wont tell them how many gallons of gas were used to achieve that mileage - unless you have to input your VIN every time you buy gas to track that as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by guruevi (827432)
        My car (Buick) and a lot of other cars that I've seen keep a mileage rating in the dashboard. Currently an avg. of 27,4 mpg. But still, it would be skewed since I drive a lot and I drive fast (80mph+) making it to use more gas than the average person that buys said car.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by klubar (591384)
        The computer-based MPG aren't that accurate because they don't account for evaporative loss. E
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rrkap (634128)

      It's important to have accurate mileage ratings on cars, and it's hard to understand how the EPA could be so bad at it. Why do they try to estimate instead of just sampling?

      Here's a simple approach: When a car comes in for an oil change, read the mileage rating stored inthe on-board computer and upload it to an EPA database. Problem solved.

      I think the main reason for a test is so it can be applied to new or modified designs; it's hard to sample the fuel economy of a car that isn't in use yet. Addi

    • Re:Sampling? (Score:4, Informative)

      by robpoe (578975) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:26PM (#19116901)
      The EPA doesn't actually test the cars under real situations.

      The car manufacturers test their OWN cars, but not in real-world. They put them on a Dynamometer, drive it in varying conditions, and collect the carbon it produced. From that, they calculate how much fuel the car burned and then derive the MPG from that.

      Of COURSE a hybrid would SHOW a huge MPG rating by that government standard. A total electric would show ~ (infinity) as it produces NO carbon itself.

      Oh, and for anyone who thinks I'm just blowing smoke out of my ass (pun intended)

      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/how_tested.shtml [fueleconomy.gov]

      • Re:Sampling? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by schon (31600) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:24PM (#19120463)
        Of COURSE a hybrid would SHOW a huge MPG rating by that government standard. A total electric would show ~ (infinity) as it produces NO carbon itself. Sorry, are you implying that the test is flawed for hybrids because they have an electric component?

        If so, here's your cluebat: Unless the electric component is bringing in power from outside the system, the test is completely valid, because all the power comes from the gasoline in the tank. Turning the engine into a generator which powers and electric drive-train doesn't change this simple fact.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by toddestan (632714)
          If so, here's your cluebat: Unless the electric component is bringing in power from outside the system, the test is completely valid, because all the power comes from the gasoline in the tank. Turning the engine into a generator which powers and electric drive-train doesn't change this simple fact.

          Actually, it's not that simple. If the hybrid goes into the test with a mostly charged battery pack, and at the end of the test the battery pack is depleted, then the hybrid "cheated" by using stored up energy th
  • by shakestheclown (887041) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:25PM (#19115621)
    In other news, the miles per gallon rating of the bicycle was also drastically reduced today by the US government.

    But on the brighter side of things, the Hummer is now rated at 75mpg on the highway.
    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:34PM (#19115809) Journal
      In other news, the miles per gallon rating of the bicycle was also drastically reduced today by the US government.

      Yeah, I heard on the Discovery Channel that a bicycle gets infinite mpg, but now the EPA says it's only *countably* infinite mpg.
    • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:47PM (#19116073)
      "But on the brighter side of things, the Hummer is now rated at 75mpg on the highway."

      Is that miles or meters per gallon?
  • by Anarchysoft (1100393) <anarchy@anarchysof[ ]om ['t.c' in gap]> on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:25PM (#19115627) Homepage
    I thought the key to getting good mileage with a hybrid was understanding how to drive it properly and, when that was done, folks were getting close to the listed mileage.
    • by BendingSpoons (997813) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:50PM (#19116129)

      I thought the key to getting good mileage with a hybrid was understanding how to drive it properly and, when that was done, folks were getting close to the listed mileage.
      Not really. I drive an '06 Civic Hybrid, which is listed at 49mpg city/50mpg highway. I am a very fuel-efficient driver and I get - at the most - 42 mpg when I drive around Philadelphia. And that's when I'm pissing off every driver behind me by accelerating slowly/coasting/etc. And under optimal weather conditions.

      The highway estimate is a little more accurate. Cruising at 65-68 mph under optimal conditions (no AC, etc.) I usually get around 47 mph.

      It's also kind of funny how much the weather affects my MPG. Cold weather drops me down at least 5 MPG. I'm not sure if that's particular to hybrids, or if that's every car.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rolfwind (528248)
        Season/temperature affects different things.

        In the summer, many cities and surrounding counties mandate a 85%/15% gas/ethanol mixture in order to reduce pollution. This has the effect of making the gas more expensive, but Consumer Reports also found that in regular cars - it kills the MPG by up to 30% because of ethanol's lower energy potential making it actually worse than pure gas.

        That, however, does not explain your lower MPG in the winter. This is actually pretty easy - the colder your engine is on st
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by qval (844544)
        Funny how your replied to a topic "How to drive a hybrid" with this:

        "I get - at the most - 42 mpg when I drive around Philadelphia. And that's when I'm pissing off every driver behind me by accelerating slowly"

        Use some common sense!

        You're supposed to accelerate briskly with a hybrid, so that you get the drive train to offer you extra torque from the electric motor. This allows you to get up to speed quickly and efficiently. Then you simply maintain speed.

        I'm not telling you to slam your pedal to the carpet.
  • Not just for hybrids (Score:5, Informative)

    by PaisteUser (810863) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:27PM (#19115667)
    It's important to note that these new ratings also change the mileage estimates for pure gasoline engines as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by aichpvee (631243)
      So a Hummer is getting -10mpg now?
      • What is with all the Hummer Hatred?

        There are three factors which determine how ecconomical (and environmental) your transportation is:

        1) What you drive
        2) How much you drive
        3) How you drive

        Personally, I don't drive a Hummer nor do I drive a prius (I don't want to own either car because they do not suit my needs or wants) but I'm positive I have better "Fuel Ecconomy" than either car. My feet get me far greater mileage than any car and I use them far more than my car; I end up using transit a lot too.

        I used t
        • by aichpvee (631243) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:44PM (#19115989) Journal
          It's probably because they're three lanes wide, weigh six tons, and get about five-miles-per-gallon highway. Doesn't hurt that they're ugly and most people who drive them drive like dicks.
        • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:52PM (#19116169) Journal
          What is with all the Hummer Hatred?

          It's too damn big. You youngsters probably don't remember this, but there was a time when you could actually see what's going on ahead of you in traffic.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mobby_6kl (668092)
          It's just that the hippies are insecure about their penis size.

          Girl [looks down] - "Hey, is it.. is it supposed to be so small?"
          Hippie - "Huh...? Did I tell you about my neighbour who drives a Hummer?
          H - "It probably only uses 10 gallons per mile! Har har. He's obviously compensating for something. Yeah..."
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bataras (169548)
          I think there are 2 factors which determine how economical (and environmental) your transportation is:

          1) What you drive
          2) How you drive

          "How much you drive" is not relevant to how economical and environmental you are while you're driving.

          "How much you drive" is related to how environmental you are overall.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by pyrbrand (939860)

          The point is, regardless of your driving habits (how much you drive), if you get a vehicle with higher fuel efficiency, you will be reducing your impact by the same % as you increase fuel efficiency. This is true whether you drive 1 mile a month or 1,000. If you drive a Hummer (10-15 mgp effective), you are automatically increasing your impact several times over what it would be if you drove a Prius (45 mpg effective).

          If everyone in America did not change their driving habits and switched to Prii, the a

  • by jkerman (74317) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:30PM (#19115723)
    Far as i know they still test EPA mileage ratings by using an exhaust sniffer and rollers.... indoors.... it fails to account for AIR RESISTANCE!

    far as im concerned they should require someone to /actually drive/ the damn car through an /actual city/ and average the results to get the fuel rating.
    • And exactly how is this fair?

      To test everything evenly you need a constant situation that will not change without you manually changing it, a "real city" is the complete opposite of this. So if Tuesday you get stuck behind a bus and on Wednesday you've got the rad to yourself, the results are clearly quite different.

    • Or at least do the test in a wind tunnel with a moving floor...

    • far as im concerned they should require someone to /actually drive/ the damn car through an /actual city/ and average the results to get the fuel rating.

      How can you do this in a way that will result in reproducible results? If I want to contest the findings, I'd need to be able to verify them independently by performing a controlled experiment. Real driving does not offer any controls to the experiment -- you'll get too many variables and won't have a clear picture of what you're actually observing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)
        That's why the call it an average. You take readings for a month of driving from lots of different people and combine the statistics together. Then you have an average MPG. Otherwise you just have a benchmarked MPG that may or may not reflect reality.
    • I'm not so sure. By driving through an "actual city", you open up the test to biases about what that particular voyage had to deal with (more/less traffic, stops, having to go different speeds), etc. The reason for the test method is not so much that it simulates real driving, but to have an apples-to-apples comparison between the various cars. Even if it doesn't match the gas mileage you actually get, it's still useful for knowing how it compares. So don't think "I will get 25 mpg with this car"; instea
  • not just hybrids (Score:2, Informative)

    As I understood it (a few years ago), the tests were not changed for a long time for several reasons, among them were easy comparisons to old data. Also, AFAIK, the test MPG numbers were already automatically scaled back by 20% (for all cars) before being placed on window stickers. By the way, I think all cars were benefiting from the tests (because the tests didn't reflect real world driving and tended to overestimate the MPG) - it is just that hybrid cars were really able to abuse the tests.
  • by Stoertebeker (1005619) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:33PM (#19115785)
    It's sad how every article about hybrids always focuses on how many years it takes to save enough gas to pay fro the added cost of the car. That's not what it is about! Especially not if you use the gas prices in a country where said price is held artificially low!
    It's about how much more we could do by using technology in a sensible way rather than spending it on finding ways to allow every Joe to accelerate a 7 ton monster truck 0-60 in under 4 seconds!
    • by dpilot (134227)
      Maybe it's not about payback time, but...

      Even with the degraded mileage figures for both Prius and Camry, (non-hybrid) they suggest that it will take 1.2 years to break even, using some sort of "average" driving and mileage statistics. But at the front of the article, they specify this at $2.70/gal gasoline. Prices right now are well above that, and it seems to me that $2.70/gal is closer to a low figure for the past year than any sort of average.

      I keep gasoline records for my vehicles, I guess it's a famil
    • by PHAEDRU5 (213667) <instascreed@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:55PM (#19116229) Homepage
      I'm afraid it actually *is* about how many years it takes to save enough gas to pay fro the added cost of the car.

      When the green movement can give me technology that at least maintains my current lifestyle, while showing savings on the bottom line within a year or two, I'll go for it. Until then, well, it can keep selling to the true believers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PHAEDRU5 (213667)
      Oh, and BTW, is it at all possible that gas prices in other countries are *artificially* *high*?

      I mean, how much tax is there on a gallon of gas in, say, the UK? I lived in the UK for a couple of years in the 80's, have loads of relatives there, and visit regularly. I know for a fact that government policy is to keep gas prices as high as possible (just right below where the peasants start to rebel) in order to encourage people to use public transport.
  • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:33PM (#19115791)
    The smug cloud that's been threatening San Francisco appears to be dispersing.
  • Help me out.. my understanding of a hybrid system was to bring performance to what are normally gutless high mpg 5spd low HP gas engines. If we only focused on high MPG then your 3cyl Geo Metro should of sufficed. But they sold poorly because they're gutless and for many reasons the market are not receptive to driving stick. A lot of folks keep bringing up the VW TDI diesels. But I looked at the performance numbers (ie 0-70 from consumer reports and the prius has better numbers). Are we to only focus on
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RingDev (879105)
      A very solid point! A gutless IC engine can be pushed really far for efficiency. You can lean out the mixture and drop the power output (you'll get more NOx I believe though). A hybrid does a few things for ya, it will recoup power from braking, it will allow a better fuel:air mixture (less NOx emissions), and it will augment your power on acceleration to make up for the gutlessness of the IC engine. If performance isn't an issue, then yes, a mid 80's civic can probably be pushed to 60mpg it you're willing
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shoptroll (544006) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:35PM (#19115833)
    I knew this was coming, and I'm a recent owner of a 2007 Prius. I'm currently averaging about 48 mpg on mainly highway driving, so I guess I'm doing better than most people out there driving these? Anybody who pays attention to the screen should be able to figure out to get the car running efficiently without needing to read up on hypermiling techniques (which will help if you want to go beyond some simple adjustments).

    So how are other cars faring with the new calculations? I'd imagine it should be proportional to the current numbers?
  • GreenHybrid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mnemonic_ (164550)
    Looks like these numbers agree pretty well with GreenHybrid's data [greenhybrid.com], which is composed of self-reported mileage numbers from hybrid owners. I'd still probably rely on GreenHybrid more because the EPA testing is just that, testing, not real world use.
  • Realistically (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bahwi (43111) <incoming.josephguhlin@com> on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:36PM (#19115849) Homepage
    Realistically you do idle a lot. Red lights, idiot drivers, and traffic, and you're spending a lot of time idling. Not idling is not realistic. Even on highways you have some idling time, between dallas/houston(abt 4 hrs to 5 hrs) I idle about 30-45 minutes because of traffic and construction, and that's between the cities, where you can have even more traffic depending on what time. Traffic sucks, but it's a part of life. And yes, if you know how to drive a hybrid, you'll get mileage over what the EPA currently says(and drastically that over what it will say soon).

    And with the tax credits (I think ending this year or ended) it's been typically cost effective depending on what type of hybrid you get. A civic hybrid from last year would have paid for itself within 8 months with my level of driving, a 3000 premium over regular civics with 2000-2500(I forget where it was last year) back from the gov't means a difference of 500-1000 to make up, which is pretty easy with how gas prices went last summer.

    I hate these people who run the numbers and leave out other numbers. Tax Credits on IRS page [irs.gov]

    Yeah, they aren't guaranteed, but if you buy early you can get them pretty easily. Or who say "Batteries are expensive" when they have very long warranties that cover it. If you want to pretend to know what you're talking about, then do the proper research. If you want the most cost effective vehicle, gas wise, get a bike. You have to be comfortable with your car, hybrid or not, and if you don't like them don't get them. But don't make up fake reasons.
    • Re:Realistically (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:08PM (#19116521)
      I hate these people who run the numbers and leave out other numbers.

      And I can't stand it when people talk as if getting tax credits reduces costs. It transfers costs to someone else. Ironically, even the guy who takes his bicycle or public transportation to work is going to have to shoulder some of the federal income tax burden that you - as a driver of your own personal vehicle - are able to shrug off because of the flavor of engine you bought. Unless you can demonstrate how your purchase of that vehicle is going to reduce the federal government's cost of doing business by the amount of your tax credit, you're just asking everyone else in the country to write you a rebate check out of their own income.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)
        But then the hybrid owner is also lowering the cleanup costs from impact to the environment. Those will be shared by all as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        And I can't stand it when people talk as if getting tax credits reduces costs.

        It reduces the cost to the purchaser.

        It transfers costs to someone else.

        Yes, so does burning gasoline, since it imposes substantial costs on people outside of the transaction. If you don't include the externalized costs of the gasoline when analyzing what saves money (and you shouldn't, if you are considering what saves the purchaser money), why would you include the costs of the tax credits to others?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885)
        Ironically, even the guy who takes his bicycle or public transportation to work is going to have to shoulder some of the federal income tax burden that you - as a driver of your own personal vehicle - are able to shrug off because of the flavor of engine you bought.

        Ironically, the public transportation systems are run at a loss and I am fleeced for other people's ability to take the bus/train. And the bicycle riders use roads paid for from gasoline taxes, but yet don't pay the gasoline taxes, making me p
  • in town and on the interstate at 75mph, respectively, after 50,000 miles of travel. My best, so far, is 33 mpg in town and 43.5 mpg on the interstate.

    It is a 4 door, five speed stick shift with air and cruise control, which I use when ever my speed goes over 30 mph. I run unleaded 87 octane Shell gasoline, found anywhere. I've often wondered about the "hybrids" that boasted of 35 - 40 mpg rates but cost $25K or more when my Saturn cost $17K (five years ago).
  • Who cares? It all depends on your driving style. If you run around do an excessive amount of speeding, accelerating, and delayed braking then you probably aren't going to get close to the EPA MPG ratings in ANY kind of vehicle.

    I see it every day during my commute. SUVs speeding along, tailgating, braking, accelerating back up to speeding .... lather, rinse, repeat.

    Our new car shows current MPG and MPG for each trip meter. It has done wonders for how we drive every day. It turns into a little game.
  • As others have said, the new tests lower mileage on standard gasoline vehicles too.

    More importantly though, there's a lot of details that get glossed over in hybrid/standard comparisons. They skip over the lower emissions of partial-zero emissions vehicles, how cost factors might even out sooner if gasoline prices continue to rise, and how if you're a high-mileage driver (especially a city driver) you may even out sooner in your purchase than others.

    On the other hand, I bought a fuel-efficient gasoline c
  • As an owner of a 2005 Prius, I think they're full of crap. I regularly get an average (city/highway mix) of about 55 MPG. In the summer, it goes over 60 MPG for the AVERAGE, not just the city. If I only did city driving, it would be even higher. I'm not driving very conservatively, my driving habits are about the same as they were when I started driving. I keep up with the traffic around me, and sometimes go a little faster.

    Of course, when they lower the estimates, I'll just be beating their estimates
  • Anybody else out there with a big, fat, 'told you so'? The automobile testers have been stating this very thing for years - that EPA ratings are out of whack.. and anyone who has ever purchased a car and tried to achieve the EPA ratings can attest to this as well... so all these poor reviews of hybrids are now validated...
    • by iggymanz (596061)
      I get 3 mpg better than the EPA estimate for my '99 Camry with 2.2L 4 cylinder. what's your problem, leadfoot?
  • Anyone with eyes and a brain can see these numbers are junk. I own a 2004 Camry. With two people in the car, on the highway, on cruise control @79mph I get 33mpg all day everyday. Anyone who tells me I'm really getting several mpg less than that is simply being a paid shill for Detroit.

    What lobbyist paid 'science' are they going to discover next? The fumes from my neighbor's custom built F-450 (yes FOUR fifty) SUV is health food? C'mon people at least learn to know when they're humping your leg.
  • while the EPA estimates are 36/31, my reality is about 36/29.5, unless I'm on the highway on a roadtrip with my car-top carrrier and in a hurry...
    then my highway mileage will drop off to about 23. That hurts.
  • by delirium28 (641609) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:44PM (#19116005) Journal
    There's a hybrid database that I've been scanning over the past year or so to see exactly which hybrid is "worth" the extra cost (ignoring the environmental impacts of course, since I'm a greedy capitalist pig ;-))

    Hybrid Mileage Database [greenhybrid.com]

    So far the EPA numbers in TFA seem to line up well for the Prius at least, but I haven't looked at any of the other numbers.
  • Diesel! (Score:5, Informative)

    by spud603 (832173) on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:50PM (#19116135)
    We have a 2003 VW Jetta TDI, and we consistently get 40-45 MPG. If I drive very conscientiously I get over 50 MPG. As I understand it, the main reason that diesels aren't picking up in the US is that the EPA restricts their sale: car companies can only sell up to a certain percentage of their fleet as diesels. Demand for them cannot legally be satisfied, so they are not marketed at all.
    Add to this the facts that diesel fuel requires less energy to produce, and can be made (mostly) renewably from just about anything that grows, and diesels blow hybrids out of the water in terms of fuel efficiency.
    Maybe this change in rating schemes will take some of the marketability out of hybrids and raise awareness for diesel... though more likely it will just encourage people to say fuck it and buy an RV to drive their kids to soccer practice.
    • Re:Diesel! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sunking2 (521698) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:19PM (#19116767)

      The reason that diesels haven't kicked in is because they don't pass the emissions standards in any state that follow "California Emissions." Has nothing to do with the EPA at all. The fact that this includes California, NY, and all of New England reduces the number of potential buys so much that it's simply not worth pushing to market in the US.

      Hopefully within a few years the auto manufacturers will produce vehicles that do pass and they'll become available. Juat about every automaker has new engines coming to market that do meet the requirements, so things should change soon

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Catbeller (118204)
        New diesel technology has been available for years that clean up the old problems. Europe is replete with diesel cars. Detroit just doesn't like diesel. The executives are gasoline fans, always will be.
        • Diesel and Detroit (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JimBobJoe (2758)
          Detroit just doesn't like diesel. The executives are gasoline fans, always will be.

          You will find that Detroit had a massive experiment with Diesels in the 1970s [wikipedia.org] and it was a total disaster (badly designed engines.) Because of that, the American consumer was quite scarred and wouldn't touch Diesel for decades.

          Chances are those scars are gone now and Diesels can be re-entertained. Low-sulphur diesel is finally here stateside, and GM has plenty of experience with diesels in its European divisions (Opel, Saab,
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:01PM (#19116353) Homepage Journal
    EPA MPG stats on regular gasonline engine cars are often inflated. I don't see them making those "more realistic", even though their inaccuracy has been known for years [google.com]. Funny how prompt they are to reduce hybrid ratings.

    And how is it more accurate to reduce ratings for hybrids because they shut off while "idling"? Gas engines burn gas while idling but getting nowhere. Which is part of the real efficiency of hybrids, especially in city driving.

    Why must the inaccurate ratings that favor gas combustion force more economical (short term fuel prices, and longterm environmental/warfare costs) to look worse?
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:04PM (#19116443)
    plugging these new numbers in to the equation makes a hybrid much less cost effective

    No, plugging these new numbers in makes the cars *appear* much less cost effective. The fact of the matter is that plenty of hybrid owners were actually reaching their posted fuel efficiency ratings, unlike gas-only cars which do not. And whether the car is stopped in traffic or not, a non-hybrid car is still consuming fuel while a hybrid is not. In fact, hybrids do much better in heavy traffic because under a certain speed (35 Km/h for the Prius for instance) it's just running on batteries.

    I think the EPA just changed the way these cars are rated because other carmakers complained that the numbers were "unfair".
    • In fact, hybrids do much better in heavy traffic because under a certain speed (35 Km/h for the Prius for instance) it's just running on batteries.

      In the escape Katrina traffic which was at a standstill much of the time, many people ran out of gas within 60 miles of New Orleans because they were traveling at less than 2 MPH. At 2 MPH a Prius can run for days (literaly) on a tank of gas. (keep the AC off)

      I know this is possible as I have put an inverter in mine and use it for emergency power. In an ice st
  • by madsheep (984404) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:51PM (#19117433) Homepage
    I know I am bit late here as there's already like 200 replies but here we go anyway. First, if the system has been flawed this whole time, it will also reduce the estimate mileage for a non-hybrid vehicle. So if a Hybrid rated at 60 mpg loses 10 mpg.. that's at 16.6% drop. If a car rated at 20 mpg loses 3 mpg tha's a 15% drop. You're looking at about the same cost-efficiency at this point.

    In any event, why do people always complaina bout the EPA rating. You've known how it's been done for a while. You basically have a comparison of cars at their same "unrealistic" measurement. So you know your car Y is X-times better/worse than car Z in this test. Who relies on a single set of tests for their data anyway. EPA updating it to be more realistic is great, as it will probably more accurately report the mileage. But it still won't be perfect, so what? Guess how long it takes to test your gas mileage yourself? I don't know.. a week on average? How long does it takes you to fill up all the way, reset the meter, and wait for the gas light to be on for a while? Not rocket science and there's plenty of websites of car owners that report what they're actually getting.
  • by onemorechip (816444) on Monday May 14, 2007 @05:02PM (#19121147)
    The new mileage ratings were posted some weeks or months ago, so this article is late to the party. But it still gets it wrong on a few counts. Mostly not factually wrong, just wrong on interpretation. For instance:

    Hybrid vehicle performance was previously overestimated partly because the tests included vehicles' idling for long periods, causing many hybrids to shut down their engines to conserve fuel. The old testing methodology registered "a higher fuel economy for hybrid vehicles than is achieved under typical driving conditions," according to EPA documents.

    Linking these two statements into one paragraph suggests that shutting down the engine while stopped causes the hybrid to perform better in the test than in the real world. That's not true; the same benefit is derived by the hybrid in real-world driving (most of the stops in the old EPA test were briefer than a typical traffic light stop -- not "long periods", a factual error in the article). In reality, a full hybrid such as the Prius also stops the engine while coasting (if the speed is low enough to allow this), but the EPA didn't seem to think it needed to do anything to remove this advantage from the tests.

    The earlier test methodology ran the cars through a certain speed profile (one profile for "city", the other for "highway"). The results were known to be optimistic because (1) A/C was not on during the test; (2) most people drive faster than the profiles; (3) in many people's "city" driving there are more frequent stops than in the test, although this varies with location; (4) probably a host of other reasons. To compensate for these factors, the EPA applied fudge factors to the result, derating the MPG to better match real-world conditions. The same derating was applied regardless of the type of vehicle, so some cars get more optimistic ratings than others.

    The fix to this inequality was to change the test so that the derating factors could be eliminated. The profiles were changed, and things like cold engine starts and the use of A/C were taken into account.

    But, if you change the amount of time the car is stopped during the test, this would have no effect on the outcome for a Prius or similar hybrid (I'm not sure if the Civic hybrid shuts off the engine while stopped; I seem to remember reading that it doesn't). It doesn't use any gas while stopped, so the denominator is not increased, but it doesn't go anywhere during the same period, so the numerator is not increased. For a non-hybrid, there is a definite increase in measured MPG if there is less time when the engine is idling, so the ratings gap between hybrids and non-hybrids is reduced.

    Consider a hypothetical example. Car A is a hybrid and gets 65 MPG under the old city test; with the derating factor applied, it gets 60 MPG (roughly the numbers for a Prius). Car B is a non-hybrid that gets 32.5 MPG on the cith test, derated to 30 MPG. Under the new test, the conditions are tougher (higher speeds, A/C is on part of the time, etc.), so both cars see a drop in measured MPG. Say Car A now gets 48 MPG and Car B gets 27 MPG (Car B sees a lesser drop because, although the test is tougher in other ways, it doesn't have to idle as much, a benefit that is meaningless to Car A). No derating is applied, so these are the published numbers. Car A's EPA rating drops by 20% from the previous method, and Car B's drops by 10%.

    Another factor is that running the A/C takes up a bigger percentage of the fuel consumption in a car with higher fuel economy. That's not hybrid-specific; any non-hybrid that is in the 35-MPG and higher territory is going to see a big difference between A/C and non-A/C operation.

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