Nov. 17, 2006: Chicago Tribune—Road to More Accurate Mileage

Summary: "Since the federal government began estimating the fuel economy of new vehicles 33 years ago, it’s been careful to note that actual mileage may vary. And how, say motorists who don’t get the mileage that appears on the window sticker.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hopes to curb such complaints in early December when it announces new rules for calculating its estimates. They’ll be rolled out beginning on 2008 model year cars.

Though the new procedures are expected to reduce the estimates from 5 percent to 25 percent, the agency’s boilerplate warning will still apply: Your mileage will vary."

Currently, corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards are used to impose fines on automakers that don’t meet fuel efficiency targets.

EPA’s new measurement method will result in lower, more realistic mileage numbers for all vehicles. Will those new numbers be used to calculate an automaker’s CAFE?

If so, look for a scramble toward E85 flex-fuel powertrains. A special rule allows vehicles with such powertrains to fake extra efficiency—even if E85 never touches the car’s gas tank.

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