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Hybrids Beware? EPA Revises Mileage Standards 550

Shivetya writes "The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced a new system for determining the fuel economy of many cars and trucks. Hardest hit will be hybrids as all-electric driving is not considered. At the same time, many medium-duty vehicles will get rated, but not have to be published until 2011 This move to more realistic ratings will severely reduce the high numbers some cars have posted."
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Hybrids Beware? EPA Revises Mileage Standards

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  • by CDMA_Demo ( 841347 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:10PM (#17370110) Homepage
    Chili Palmer: How many miles to the gallon to you get on those Hummers, about 12?
    Dabu: Nine.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:13PM (#17370130) Homepage Journal
    From the EPA site itself stimates []

    A site to enter your own observed information estVehicle []

    or lookup what others have recorded estVehicle []
  • Beware of what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by localman ( 111171 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:13PM (#17370132) Homepage
    Look, the reality of milage doesn't change because the EPA changes their testing methodology. Yes, the current EPA numbers are inflated. Sounds like the new ones will be deflated. Regardless, I get a real world 40 MPG out of my Prius and that's better than the real world high 20's, low 30's I got out of my previous cars with similar performance. What's the big deal? Why do so many folks go nutty over proving that hybrids are the greatest thing ever or the stupidest thing ever? All cars have different performance, comfort, efficiency, safety, appearance, and cost metrics. So you choose one you like.

    By the way, I don't hate HUMMER owners.

    • by Skye16 ( 685048 )
      I do, but only because they're obnoxious about their cars. Prius owners *can* be the same way as well. (I'm not trying to zing you, either, because you definitely did not come off as obnoxious.)

      I was going to buy a prius, until I realized I could get a 2000$ kia pos and run it into the ground and still save hundreds of dollars in gas, over a thousand dollars in insurance, and about 24k on the car itself.

      Sure, the I want to send the KIA careening off a cliff, but as far as fuel efficiency *and* economi
    • Why do so many folks go nutty over proving that hybrids are the greatest thing ever or the stupidest thing ever?

      Don't you watch South Park? The folks with hybrids bend over and fart into glasses because they think their farts smell so good. The hybrid drivers are so much more evolved than the rest of us, or so they would have you believe.

      I don't really hate hybrids but I do get annoyed when things seem to be rigged for hybrids and against diesel when recent diesel engines are much cleaner than they used to be and on the freeway do much better than a hybrid. You also don't have to pay the weight penalty of batteri

      • by Dan Ost ( 415913 )
        You should start seeing diesel being treated more fairly. Now that the ultra-low sulfur diesel is
        available just about everywhere, cars will be sold that take advantage of it (dare I speculate about
        diesel electric hybrids in 2009?).

        In the long term, I see biodiesel being more practical than ethanol (easier to make, transport, and
        more efficient to use in an internal combustion engine (at least until high-compression engines
        optimized for ethanol are built...not these crippled flex fuel engines)), so I'm all fo
        • (dare I speculate about diesel electric hybrids in 2009?).

          Go ahead. Diesels have less compression braking, which allows for better regenerative braking for a hybrid over gasoline/electrics. When the prices come way down for hybrid components (as they have for airbags, EFI systems and ABS controllers over the past couple of decades), expect to see hybrid diesels bring together city efficiency and freeway efficiency.

          • Re:Beware of what? (Score:4, Informative)

            by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:18PM (#17371370)
            In my limited experience Diesels have lots more engine compression braking. I used to drive a Nissan PU with a SD25 diesel. Gear down, let of the clutch and get pulled over by the cops to check your brake lights.
            With a 22.5 to 1 compression ratio (close to 500 lbs engine compression) it had lots of engine braking.
            I think the difference is that this engine had a butterfly valve in the intake hooked up to the throttle and a vacuum line to the fuel pump for throttle operation and others have the throttle connected straight to the fuel pump with no valve in the manifold to create vacuum.
            Another nice thing about that engine that given a hill to jump start it you didn't need electric power for it to run.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by networkBoy ( 774728 )
              My 83 merc is the same. You can even tow start the car if you had to. It's winter so I'm on petro diesel, but come summer I'll be burning veggie oil.
              I'd love to see a diesel electric hybrid, that would be awesome.

              Side note about alternative fuel energy gains*:
              Ethanol from corn: 25%
              Biodiesel from soybeans: 93%
              Source: Science News, July 15 2006, vol 170 pg 36-37 "Farm-Fuel Feedback"

              *energy provided vs energy to produce. Also, corn takes tons more fertalizer and other crap to grow, it's a crap energy sourc
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by dryeo ( 100693 )
                Kind of surprised to see soybeans doing so well. Soybeans also take quite a bit of fertilizer and various pesticides.
                The best plant for energy, both alcohol and biodiesel as well as plastic, and one hell of a lot of other useful things is hemp.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by yabos ( 719499 )
                  Yeah, hemp is like the magic plant. It's so versatile but it's just buried by the ignorant government and probably lobbied against by the oil industry. You could literally replace a lot of the plastics and gasoline with hemp fibre or oil based products. And the best thing is it grows like a weed anyways so it doesn't take a lot of maintenance.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by modecx ( 130548 )
          Yep I love diesel as much as the next diesel freak, however, VW, the one and only major manufacturer selling diesel cars in the US, is sending only one diesel vehicle to the US for '07: the V10 Touareg TDI, priced at ~$60k... Ostensibly, the reason for this would seem to be that they don't want to deal with our revised emissions standards.
      • I don't really hate hybrids but I do get annoyed when things seem to be rigged for hybrids and against diesel when recent diesel engines are much cleaner than they used to be and on the freeway do much better than a hybrid.
        Blame your favorite money-losing American car company, and its support for and from Big Oil, for the lack of diesel options in US cars.
        • Re:Beware of what? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by JakiChan ( 141719 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:45PM (#17371034)

          Blame your favorite money-losing American car company, and its support for and from Big Oil, for the lack of diesel options in US cars.
          I don't know what the deal with the car companies is, but yeah I do blame the US oil companies for not giving us ULSD until recently. Now that we have it, though, I hope to see nice and advanced diesel engines from the European car companies to show us stupid American'ts what modern diesel is like.
    • what's odd is that some will rise.

      My dodge stratus was 2-5 mg higher than what was posted. Whiles my liberty only gets it's highway rating while going from gas station to gas station while driving on the highway.

      these are only supposed to more accurately reflect real world driving conditions. Fact is while many hybrids get better than average gas millage a lot of them never see the full numbers posted. driving a hybrid optimally isn't how americans drive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jason Earl ( 1894 )

      The big deal is that I get a "real world" 40 mpg out of my 96 Honda Civic, and I don't have a trunk full of toxic batteries. Sure all EPA gas mileage ratings are currently very optimistic, but they are especially optimistic for hybrids, and that's a problem.

      The Prius is a great car, but you could almost certainly have gotten a non-hybrid car that was more efficient in real world driving at a much lower price. You wouldn't have to worry about batteries either. As a concrete example my 96 Civic gets much

      • Curious statement about getting a non-hybrid car with better mileage than a Prius. I just got a Prius since it has the roominess of the other cars of the small class (Civic, Corolla, PT Cruiser etc.) yet gets significantly better mileage, especially in town. Please name another car that has better mileage and the same interior space. (The Prius gets 45+ MPG in real world driving for me.)
        • Re:Beware of what? (Score:5, Informative)

          by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:27PM (#17370876)
          The old Honda Civic VX (straight gasoline) could get 50+ MPG and it was considerably better on the highway. My mom got 55-60 MPG with her VX on the highway, but it dropped to 45-50 in city driving.
          • Re:Beware of what? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @01:16AM (#17373838) Homepage Journal
            We are not talking about hondas or toyotas that get 50 mpg. Every car I have ever owned has gotten around 30 mpg, so it is not technologically difficult to get 40mpg, if one pays for design and materials.

            What the new rules are designed to do, and what the American car manufacturers is upset about, is to close a loophole that allows the American manufacturers to ignore minimum standards in the fuel consumption of the fleet. This is not an evil plot by the government, this is something that the government was forced to enact due to the repeated failure of the manufacturers to obey the spirit of the law.

            Two examples. Cars had certain requirements to help protect our environment, but trucks necessarily did not. The manufactures created this loop hole by saying the farmers and small business could not afford the extra equipment and such equipment was not necessary if rural areas. The congress agreed. In response to this loophole the manufacturers started pushing the SUV because they did not have to put as much technology in it, and therefore the cost to produce was often cheaper. Then, due to certain vagaries in the tax law, they realized the could push really huge SUV and trucks, as the cost after tax deduction can actually be cheaper than smaller, better built, more fuel efficient vehicle. Such things forces responsible manufacturer, like subaru, to end up a competitive disadvantage when they build cars that won't kill the family of four in the Honda Cvcc.

            Which brings us to today. The fuel consumption estimates for hybrids is a jake, and allows manufacturers to seriously underestimate the average fuel consumption for of their fleet. For example, for can use the wildly overestimated fuel consumption on the Hybrid escape to compensate for the fuel consumption on the Expedition, which, even though fuel saving technology increases every year, the fuel consumption does not get better. With the old rules this basically evened out, and the overall fuel consumption remained constant. However, with the new rules they are in trouble. Ford wants to blame the company trouble on health care of the line workers, but I bet it is more an issue of using funds for executive pay rather than R&D. Why else were they so afraid of disclosing executive pay, and why else would they be so happy that the SEC rescinded the requirement to fully disclose compensation. And the fact that the order came the day before christmas was even more interesting.

            Which leads to today.

      • by Engineer-Poet ( 795260 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:42PM (#17371006) Homepage Journal
        All current hybrids use NiMH batteries, which have no cadmium toxicity issues (unlike NiCd). They're soon going to switch to Li-ion because the specific power (kW/kg) and energy (Wh/kg) are better with some of the new chemistries.

        Li-ion batteries have few toxicity issues either, and the new chemistries like iron phosphate and titanium spinel have even less.

        Of course, it still makes sense to recycle batteries instead of landfilling them. Lead-acid car batteries are already the most-recycled items in the USA, and the more valuable the materials in the battery (nickel, lithium, cobalt in the old Li-ions) the more attractive it will be to recycle them.
      • Re:Beware of what? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:25PM (#17372068)
        The big deal is that I get a "real world" 40 mpg out of my 96 Honda Civic,

        What nobody is posting is the fuel ratings for many diffrent styles of driving. Highway and city are fine, but what about all the mail delivery and newspaper routes. During the big storm in Louisana, many people simply ran out of gas on the freeway because they were getting less than 5 MPG in the creep and stop driving. I hope the EPA includes local delivery estimates to the mix.

        I do have a Prius. I have stuck a kilowatt inverter in it. It doubles as an emergency generator. I have run for days at a time off it. It would start, run at a fast idle for about 5 minutes and shut down again and repeat in about 20 minutes. A regular car would be out of gas in under 24 hour sitting at idle. I use about 1/8 of a tank a day running this way while running a couple CF lights, the fireplace blower, the small TV, the fridg, and a small chest freezer. I ran that way for an ice storm that knocked out the power for 2 days. When I ran low on gas, I filled it and still got 32 MPG on that tank. (my all time low) Not bad for 2 days of running getting 0 MPG and a week of commuting.

        I would have never been able to do that with a conventional car.

        The choice of a car sometimes comes down to more than just a replacement for public transportation.

        I would like to see the real world numbers for letter carriers and city buses.
      • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:23PM (#17372548) Homepage Journal
        MPG ratings are notoriously inaccurate because it's a single figure derived from an unscientific selection of conditions that an unscientific selection of cars is exposed to, with all other variables and parameters extrapolated and/or ignored.

        It would seem much more logical to expose a truly random selection of cars to exhaustive tests over a wider range of conditions for longer periods of time. Instead of averaging, you plot against a distribution and take the average of the distribution. This, however, is not the quoted figure for any car. It's merely the baseline for that model. Each car has to have some nominal testing - at least to see if the engine will start. Assuming that the distribution will be the same with merely the offsets being different, you then derive the effective MPG from the distribution and where that specific car is believed to be on it.

        You now have an MPG per car, but it's still a single value and single values are useless. I'd therefore do the above with nine distributions, not one. One for 0-25 mph, one for 25-50, one for 50-75, and each of those for smooth traffic flow, heavy traffic and stop/go traffic.

        Consumers tend to drown out lots of stats, though, and nine numbers - trivial to any geek - would be murderous on your average couch potato. On the other hand, colours tend to be workable. Simply do a rainbow spectrum, where violet is so far above average that driving round the planet uses less fuel than a typical hummvee uses to get out the parking lot, and where red is where you're escorted to the grocery store by an oil tanker. Nice and visual, though with hard data for those who actually want hard data to work with.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

      Why do so many folks go nutty over proving that hybrids are the greatest thing ever or the stupidest thing ever?

      For some people, hybrids are the environmentally smug way to show off how big your penis is.

      Despite all the data saying that hybrids do not create a net energy savings, a lot of people treat 'em as an eco-conscious status symbol.

      The energy that goes into building a car outstrips, by far, the amount of gasoline you're going to burn during the 'normal' service life. If you want to do the world a fav

      • by Thraxen ( 455388 )
        Got any stats? I see people say this all the time, but never see any data to back it up.
    • I had a Toyota Celica that I would get that out of when I was at highway speeds.

      I think that if a Prius gets in the HOV lane for that, then a Celica should as well.
    • Re:Beware of what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:52PM (#17370532) Homepage Journal
      Heck, I never thought massive MPGs were really the point of Hybrids. You can get massive MPGs out of tiny compact cars with little lawnmower engines. The point of the Hybrids to me is to get decent MPG while not accelerating like a fat kid on a tricycle and not bogging down when you need to move three of your friends somewhere in stop and go traffic.

      You're not paying extra for a car that gets exceptionally good MPG. You're paying extra for a car with good MPG that doesn't suck to drive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ucklak ( 755284 )
        I think another point of hybrids is for commuters in stop & go traffic. Less wear and tear on the transmission.
    • As a prius owner, what's really interesting is the effect of cold weather on the car. The car looses about 4 to 5 miles per gallon when the weather is below 32. The engine runs much more trying to keep the catalytic converter up to temperature. If you kick on the heat (which is free in a non-hybrid) it really keeps the engine running to warm up the passenger cabin. That's may be why you see prius owners bundled up in winter. (Honda's don't have this problem as the engine runs all the time.)

      I summer, th
  • by toadlife ( 301863 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:15PM (#17370154) Journal
    I have Hyundai Sonata and the mileage quoted on the sticker at the lot is *exactly* what I've gotten. Aside from the hybrid variety, are certain cars more likely to get lower mileage than the EPA estimate?
  • Since none of them come from the factory with any way to recharge the battery pack other than driving or braking they are all just gas powered. They are more efficient because the internal combustion engine is sized correctly for charging the battery or maintaining highway speed not for rapid acceleration. People do add chargers and larger batteries but the EPA has never tested aftermarket modifications.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:19PM (#17370184) Homepage
    This won't affect the Insight at all; it doesn't have an all-electric mode.

    It is, that said, an exceptionally stupid rule; the Prius gets a huge benefit from the all-electric mode, and that ought to be included in the mileage calculations, because it's the bottom line that affects a real user. If your car can do three miles of bumper to bumper traffic with the engine off, instead of burning a quarter gallon of gas idling, you have saved a quarter gallon of gas. That your engine didn't need to be on to achieve this is a feature, not a bug.
    • The new rules will lower mileage on all cars, hybrids will simply be the hardest hit. The article isn't too specific, but I'm assuming this is due to low temperature conditions and hard acceleration. Hard acceleration kicks the engine on more quickly, and cold weather means the heater will be on. I'd expect the inclusion of stop-and-go conditions would affect conventional cars more than hybrids, but apparently this isn't enough to compensate for the other changes in the tests.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2ms ( 232331 )
      Perhaps you haven't stopped to think where that electricity that it is using in all-electric mode comes from -- it comes from converting hydrocarbons into mechanical energy and then mechanical energy into electricity. This is actually a less efficient process than direct conversion of hydrocarbons into mechanical energy, of course. The primary reason hybrids get good mileage in cities is that they are able to shut off engine at idle and that they are able to recoup energy otherwise lost energy through reg
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TClevenger ( 252206 )
        The difference is that you have a variety of sources to choose from when "fueling" an electric. Electricity can come from sources as dirty as coal, to sources as clean as wind or solar. (My father will be putting a wind generator on his property this summer, so his fuel source is as clean as can be.) With a gasoline car, you can choose gasoline, or... gasoline.
    • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:42PM (#17370408)
      The test doesn't exclude certain types of mileage from the calculation, it changes the type of driving done to be more like how people actually drive.
    • This won't affect the Insight at all; it doesn't have an all-electric mode.

      As I understand it, none of the Honda models will run all-electric. They are optimized for highway driving with the electric motors as an assist. The Toyota models are optimized for city driving (where all electric makes more sense), hence the higher city than highway mileage rating.

      I think the logic is that engines are more efficient at highway speeds, and motors at city speeds.

      From a design sense, the Honda system scales be

    • RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

      by vtcodger ( 957785 )
      ***It is, that said, an exceptionally stupid rule; the Prius gets a huge benefit from the all-electric mode, and that ought to be included in the mileage calculations***

      It very well may be included. The article summary omits a couple of words -- namely "some of"-- from the sentance in the article that says. "Hybrids will be hit harder because the new test eliminates some of the all-electric driving that helped them produce impressive results under the present system" The article is not specific about

  • One-Two Punch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:20PM (#17370192)
    Having accurate mileage along with recommendations on raising mpg requirements [] could be a very cold shower for the US auto industry.

    Getting the US off of the foreign oil tit should be a national security imperative.

    • Indeed, getting off oil is about more than just one issue.

      Foreign Oil has ethical issues more severe than coffee. Often enough you get a local strongman supported by oil money, or a clan of bloody thieves.

      Oil has a billion and one environmental issues, from CO2, which is claimed to cause the current global warming (although I'm skeptical of causation rather than collation). Not to mention Sulfur, trace minerals, lead, benzene exposure, oil spills killing cute and fuzzy animals.

      Or better yet, oil being

    • Gasoline isn't the majority of what oil is used for.

      In order to get off the "foreign oil tit", as you put it, we'd have to do alternatives for lubricants, plastics, asphalt, jet fuel, diesel oil, heating oil, etc.

      Sure, there are alternatives for may of those (biodiesel, corn-starch plastics, electricity generation fueled by something besides oil, etc), but the alternatives are often more costly (and less efficient) to create than the original... or can be worse for the environment (e.g. coal-fired elect

    • Getting the US off foreign oil doesn't necessarily improve national security. Also, its probably not beneficial economically which is probably worse in economic terms. When all is said an done 911 didn't really do much to the US economically. The US could have bought Iraqi oil with out invading Iraq, all they had to do was repeal the oil sanctions or flagrantly violate them. Given the climate in Iraq it probably would have been better to flagrantly violate them because it prevents other nations from buying
    • by isaac ( 2852 )
      Actually, you can bet this change is bought and paid-for by the US auto industry. Guess who's getting their clocks cleaned by Toyota's Hybrids?

      Collecting fuel efficiency data for medium-duty vehicles but not publishing it until 2011? What a bold initiative!

      This is about stalling until the domestics can come up with something to compete with Toyota. They won't, though, because they suck at making anything with tight tolerances.


  • A co-worker used to plug his electric pickup truck into an outlet in the parking ramp during the day. I am struggling to remember the company, although it said it right on the side. It was not one of the legendary Ford Ranger EVs. I believe it was a GM mini pickup.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by markh100 ( 696858 )
      The summary is misleading. The summary states that "all-electric driving is not considered". The article states that hybrids will be most impacted by the rule changes, because aggressive driving and cold weather driving will theoretically minimize the impact on gas mileage provided by all-electric drive.

      We bought a Prius in September. We average about 55 MPG in warmer weather, and 47 MPG in driving in cold Michigan/Canadian weather (both city and highway), so I don't think Hybrids will see as big of a dr
  • I have a 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. When I bought the car a year and a half ago, I was curious about the fuel economy. Most of my drive to work is on the highway, and over a period of a week I tracked miles driven and fuel consumed. My decade old car gets 32 miles per gallon. I find it stupid that many cars today brag about that kind of fuel economy on the highway. You would think that in a ten year stretch engines and cars would have become significantly more efficient - even the non-hybrid models.

    On a
    • You would think that in a ten year stretch engines and cars would have become significantly more efficient - even the non-hybrid models.

      Only if a significant improvement in fuel efficiency was directly profitable to the automobile manufacturer. I say this not as a slap at the "greedy car companies" but simply to point out the obvious: the car companies are in business to make money, and as long as lower fuel efficiency and larger body/frame is "profitable" (as long as it sells) they're not going to "wa

    • Actually, we got that exact same 32 mileage in cars since about 1965. Yes, I'm getting old, I know... :)

      The point is - the Otto (Petrol) motor is a mature technology and it won't improve anymore. In contrast, we have been getting 50MpG with Diesel cars since about 1975. Gawd knows why Diesel cars are not marketed in North America.
  • by Cylix ( 55374 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:30PM (#17370294) Homepage Journal
    I thought MythBusters covered this one.

    The final thoughts were that no modern air conditioning system should vastly impact gas mileage.

    They even tested it on some SUV and came out with very similar gas mileage. (Windows down actually caused slightly more loss).

    I'm sure someone will chime in here and clear this up a bit. I was just a bit confused when the article claimed air conditioning was a gas hog. (Note, on an older car I had when I kicked in the AC I really did feel the engine jump to compensate, but this was ages ago.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dknj ( 441802 )
      because an SUV has a 5L v8 that doesn't even notice an a/c compresser turning on. while it is true most new cars switch off the a/c upon load to avoid impacting gas milage.. your civic's gas mileage WILL take a hit when the a/c is running full blast during a hot summer day.

      for instance, my car tells me i get about 2-3mpg less when driving around without the turbo spooled (4-banger, below 3000rpm). that's an extra tank of gas consumed per month, and my car is relatively newish. who knows how much those ol
    • When the AC kicks in on my car I can feel it, because I have 110 hp to work with (peak) - when the car is cruising it's probably making about 25 hp, and single-system automotive AC (the norm) takes 3-5 hp. That's a very large percentage of the power the engine is making.

      As you say, you tend to actually get slightly better mileage with the AC on than with the windows down, because modern cars tend to be highly aerodynamic (in an effort to get better mileage ratings.) Open the windows and all that aerodyn

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The smaller the motor, the more effect that it will have. If you drive a Honda Civic, you're better off with the windows down. If you drive a Toyota Camry, you're better off with the windows up. Mythbusters is only about 75% credible.

      I did these tests on my own, recording engine load, fuel flow, AC during idling, and AC during driving. The AC can be VERY taxing.
    • by B5_geek ( 638928 )
      I own a 1999 Honda Civic SiR. It has a 1.6L 160HP 4 cylinder engine.
      When I turn on the air conditioning, I litterally get an "air-brake" effect.
      If the cruise-control is on, the RPM's jump up to compensate (IIRC about 200~400rpm).
      If I am manually controlling the speed and engage the air-conditioner, I drop speed and available horsepower.

    • Did they test with an accurate method, such as a fuel flow meter, or did they just put in 5 gallons and drive until empty? They just recently started testing with a flow meter, which is the only accurate way to go. (The drive-until-empty method had too many differing factors, such as driving style, location of the fuel pickup in the tank, and steepness of the turns in their circular course.)
  • Sure, mileage for hybrids will drop with the new regulations but at the same time the mileage on all-gas vehicles will drop as well. Hybrids will still come out on top.
  • ...remains the bicycle. But I ain't riding one, I've got whole cows to devour...
  • won't change my car (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mountain_Man87 ( 253499 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:32PM (#17370314) Homepage Journal
    My little 93 Geo Metro XFi would still get pretty much the same mileage as the old EPA ratings 51/58. I currently get 57 MPG driving it like a nut. There are a few metros on the road getting 70+mpg on the road right now.
  • Honestly, this sounds like a ploy from the Big 3 automakers lobby groups and Big Oil to make alternative energy sources look less attractive. And, I don't care how you spin it, a hybrid car should always come out better; if not by government standards then by common sense. Common sense has to win over when you burn less gas because the hybrid car has the electric drive. Leave it to government to pass another non-sense law. We need to end our dependence on oil, period! Not just foriegn oil but all sourc
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by funwithBSD ( 245349 )
      Well, you should go take a look at Toyota's own assessment before getting out the conspiracy theories and claiming "common sense": .pdf []
      from []

      Total energy used to produce the car and run it is only slightly better than an all gas model because initial energy requirements for a similar sized car is MUCH higher, something that goes contrary to "common sense".

      That gets payed back over the years in better gas milage. The wikicar
  • Why are diesel cars unavailable in the USA/Canada?

    A hybrid is a very expensive way to get the same mileage as a diesel. They are hard to start in Winter compared to a petrol engine, but the Europeans make do somehow.
    • Why? Well, it's like this: After seeing how diesel-powered consumer-grade pickup trucks* belch out a dozen cubic yards of black smoke whenever its driver wants to pass someone on the highway, I shudder to think of what a road full of those things would do to the air...

      *yes, that includes even the brand-new ones in many cases


    • by bflong ( 107195 )
      Several reasons. One that sticks up in my mind is that the in the US the diesel fuel is too high in sulfer to be run in the nice diesel autos that euroupe is full of. It really makes no sense to me. Diesel is not refined as much as gasoline, and it's exactly the same stuff as home heating oil, yet it's more expensive most places. I remember years ago my father had a diesel GMC suburban (full sized SUV with 3 rows of seats). It did not even have a turbo charger and he got high/mid twenty MPG figures. The pro
    • Why are diesel cars unavailable in the USA/Canada?

      Diesels in autos were banned in California (and I believe New York, as well) due to emissions problems, even though clean-burning diesel technology has existed for ages. Since California represents a huge market, and since it doesn't make much sense for the automakers to have separate models for the California market, diesel autos are relatively rare. Of course, rather than banning diesels, CA could have required the automakers to use the clean-burning technology despite the resistance. Anyways, look ho

    • Two reasons: 1. Diesels could not be made clean enough with the formulations used in the U.S. California (and possibly other states) now requires a cleaner diesel fuel, which allows diesels to be as clean as gasoline cars. 2. The diesels that were available in the U.S. in the 80's were unreliable and underpowered, and pretty much turned a lot of people off to diesels. (Thanks, Olds.)
    • by giminy ( 94188 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:06PM (#17370696) Homepage Journal
      I drive a diesel (VW Jetta) and it is awesome. No cold weather starting problems, either, even when I lived in central new york, where the temperature was regularly in the single digits. Most fuel sellers put additives in their diesel in the winter to prevent the fuel from gelling, and engines have very good glow plugs these days. The motors are even quiet and soot-free these days (unless you really floor the gas pedal)...every time I've told a passenger in my car that it's diesel, they've been surprised and/or didn't believe me.

      It's also zippy as heck. The motor produces a ton of torque at really low RPMs so it feels a lot faster than it really is, but the feeling makes it a ton of fun to drive.

      The biggest reason that more diesels aren't sold in the states is that California banned the sale of new ones. Several other states adopted California's emissions laws (New York and most of the northeastern states). Consequently not many car companies are interested in investing the time, effort (replace previous two words with 'money') to bring diesels to the US -- it's illegal to sell them in many states so it would be a lot of money spent for not much return in sales revenue.

      You can buy used diesel passenger vehicles in any of those states, but it's hard to find them (since they were never sold as new there in the first place) and they fetch a premium. Case in point: I bought mine *used* for $19,500 in New Jersey (where new diesels are actually legal to sell), and it had 42k miles on it at the time. New, the car's sticker price was about $22,000. Now it has 60k miles on it and my car will fetch $21,000 without too much trouble (I live in California these days). It's kind of a shame they aren't more common, as the mileage is good (36 city/50 highway is my real-world driving).

      Before people call me a diesel zealot, I'll definitely mention the bad things: they are bad in that they create more particulate in their exhaust, which has been shown in studies to be a carcinogen. Old-skool diesel fuel sold in the US also contained lots of sulfur, which created sulfur dioxide in the exhaust, which in turn created acid rain. The sulfur also prevented good catalytic converters from being used, so diesels create way more NOx. Now that we have low-sulfur diesel in the US, I think diesel cars will become quite a bit better...but the reputation they garnered as smoking, smelly, sooty, bad-for-the-environment cars through the 70s and 80s will probably hurt their chance at widespread adoption in the US.

      Diesel is also interestingly becoming more expensive than gasoline where I live. I find it funny, because diesel fuel is a lot easier to produce than gasoline, or so my fuel engineer friend tells me. Still, mile for mile diesel fuel is cheaper, since I get about the double the mileage that I would in a similar gasoline vehicle...
  • by SoopahMan ( 706062 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:35PM (#17370342)
    I really doubt Hybrids will be as markedly impacted by the new tests as suggested in the EPA's discussion. Rapid accelleration is a reason many car buyers buy their car - I own a Prius and I can't even list for you how many times someone told me about its 0-60 performance while I was considering buying it - as a selling point for buying the car! Even over on where fuel efficiency is the point of the entire website, people made endless claims about the Prius' ability to take off off the line.

    So bravo for these changes being added. Toyota and Honda are obviously the leaders in this field and they'll either make no change to their strategy and just keep having the highest EPA numbers, or adjust their strategy slightly to keep high EPA numbers but handle rapid accelleration with good mileage numbers - something that, by the way, the current Prius does not do, regardless of how many claims salesmen and Prius enthusiasts made. It gets its great numbers when cruising, or starting and stopping at low speeds - which is just what the old EPA standards tested.

    Any environmentalist worried about the Prius dropping from 60mpg EPA to 44mpg should keep in mind 2 things:

    The Hummer will probably drop from 11mpg to 9. Single digits won't improve sales. They might harm them. Might.

    The 2008/2009 Prius has been claimed by Toyota to get 75mpg under the current standards - so it's entirely possible the new EPA measure will put it at... 60mpg.

    So even if the new tests somehow favored gas guzzlers, which I doubt, Honda and Toyota have the technological lead and their MPG numbers are only going to continue to run away from the rest of the pack leaving GM and Ford's "hybrid" sub-30mpg numbers further and further behind.
  • FTA:

    The new system will use more high-speed driving, partly in 20-degree cold. Air conditioning will be on some portion of each driving cycle, and there will be more stop-and-go and rapid-acceleration driving.

    So what if they have decided to change the test to simulate driving in sub-freezing and balmy temperatures in the same drive. The reason why the EPA numbers always seem high when you are calculating your fuel economy at the pump is there is now way to perfectly model how an actual person drives th

  • learn to drive (Score:3, Informative)

    by tehwebguy ( 860335 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:47PM (#17370466) Homepage
    the epa can do whatever they want and it won't change the "real world" results that most people get.

    how many people do you know who always have their foot flooring the gas or brake? if people learned to use the accelerator and brakes effectively they would probably save 10 mpg on every tank.

    i'll bet i get better mileage in my eclipse than a decent percentage of hybrid owners, simply because most people don't think about how they drive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by leabre ( 304234 )
      I started by getting about 40 MPG in my new hybrid (Civic '06). Now, even going through intense mountainous areas, I'm averaging 51-53.5 MPG on 680 Mile tank refills. Even today I started at my house with 50.8 MPG in the dash display and went through some series mountainous terrain for an hour and brought down to 47 MPG but by the time I arrived home I was back to 50.2. I know a few hybrid owners and they mostly take their MPG seriously and only one I know doesn't care and gets about 38 MPG.

      I'll bet your
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:53PM (#17370554) Journal fuel.reut/index.htm?cnn=yes []

    Personnaly I am sort of happy to see GM get thier lunch eaten. They've been asleep at the switch for too many years.

    Here an interesting article as well. /index.html []

    A choice quoute from the head of Toyota: '"The important thing is to be a leader in car-making, and that's done by improving products," he told a year-end news conference, adding that vehicle quality will be Toyota's top priority at a time of rising vehicle recalls.'

    An American manager would have spoken some crap about "leveraging synergys for value added customer delight", in other words not admitting to a problem and just engaging in window dressing. American management seems to have lost thier way, focusing on image without addressing fundamentals.
  • Just shows how slow the government is to correct any errors it produces. Hell, if it took THIS long to correct inaccurate gas mileage numbers, how long will it take to correct our deficit?

    Nevermind... I'm reaching :(
  • My '06 VW Golf TDI was rated for 37/44 mpg and I average 42mpg (70/30 mix highway/city), and I'm not going light on the gas pedal. (Yes, I do track every tank in a spread sheet)

    It's good that they are revamping the test, but it's bad that it may not accurately reflect the real life experiences that full electric drivers will experience.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:09PM (#17370728)
    5 Passengers and a load as well... []

    An electric vehicle has almost no parts which require servicing; no valves, no spark plugs, no oil to change, no air filter, no piston rings. Basically it'll last as long as the chassis is structurally sound and the bodywork remains reasonable. The only bits which'll wear out are the consumables, the battery and bearings. With a battery which can last for 20 years, there's no real reason the vehicle shouldn't do a million miles with bugger all servicing.

    The battery:

    "In addition to high power the Altairnano NanoSafe
    batteries deliver:
      Long life - potentially up to 20+ year life
      Very fast charge - rechargeable in minutes
      Extremely wide operating temperature range
    from -50C/-60F to +75C/165F
      Inherent safety - no risk of thermal runaway"

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:50PM (#17371090) Journal something like a Nielsen rating for mileage. Pay some people to put a black box in their car that records the mileage. For new models, you just publish the EPA "laboratory" mileage. For cars with a year or more of real-world driving, they could post "actual" mileage. One big problem however, is that you might not be able to get enough people to sign up. You need enough people to sort out the lemons (although if mileage lemons are produced, that's important to know).

    Kudos to the EPA for taking this a step closer to the real world.

    Now, it wouldn't carry the same weight as a controlled data-gathering or testing effort, but is anybody aware of a mileage website, where people just enter their mileage for various makes and models? Sounds like something GasBuddy could add as a feature.

  • by WizardOfZid ( 588739 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:11PM (#17371950)
    Several comments asked for some real numbers from hybrid owners. I live in Phoenix and get low 50s in a combination of city and highway driving (last time I looked my display showed 52.2).

    Going up grade the car performs great. Last week I drove up to Flagstaff and had no problems maintaining 65 for the 5-10 mile stretches of 5-7% grade with 4 people in the car. The electric engine augments the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) and that helps the performance.

    On the A/C front, the Prius has a multistage compressor so the hit on the car is minimal under moderate heat. I see plenty of hot conditions out here and the milage doesn't seem to be effected much at all even at maximum cooling. If anything, the mileage is a bit lower in cold conditions due to the engine running longer to bring the engine up to temp for emisions management. It also is an ELECTRIC motor compressor so the power used is not directly from the gas engine. That should help with the new EPA tests.

    Do I drive like a type "A" personality? No, that never did appeal to me to race up to a stop light to get one car ahead. I do drive to take advantage of the car I have. YMMV.

  • Carpool/HOV lanes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GodWasAnAlien ( 206300 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:29PM (#17372104)
    I admit that it bothers me a little that hybrids get a free Carpool/HOV pass.

    I thought the point of HOV lanes was to have fewer cars on the road.
    Allowing hybrids there does not encourage fewer cars out there.

    But, you say, hybrids are really efficient, and the allowances helps fight polution.

    Well, hybrids, by design are the most efficient in stop and go traffics.
    Braking charges the batteries.

    But in the HOV lane, hybrids are slowing less, so using the gas engine more.

  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:13PM (#17372464) Homepage
    With the number of suckers paying insane amounts of money just to save $1 on gas, we'd probably be better off with a total cost of ownership measurement.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan