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Congress should update MPG standard to reduce gas consumption

View Consumer Reports Investigates “Fuel Economy”
View in-dept comparison of CU’s average MPG estimates
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Contact: Ann Wright or Jennifer Fuson, 202-462-6262

Consumers Union Calls on Congress to Update Federal Miles per Gallon Standards to Reduce US Gasoline Consumption

Statement in Response to EWG Report on MPG Standards and US Dependence on Foreign Oil

Washington, DC —Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, calls on Congress to address the often inflated “miles per gallon” stickers on new vehicles in response to an analysis released today by the Environmental Working Group, entitled, “Real MPG: Putting the Truth in Your Tank.” The report indicates that if automakers were required to test cars for fuel efficiency using reliable testing methods reflecting real world driving conditions, then progress could be made in reducing US dependence on foreign oil.
Consumers Union has long advocated for EPA to update the inaccurate and outdated miles per gallon estimates printed on the window stickers of new cars and trucks; and, urges manufacturers to use the new numbers in their compliance with Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFÉ), federal mileage standards. CU has tested the accuracy of EPA’s claims for model years 2000 to 2006 and found the mileage promised on new car stickers is very often inflated, sometimes by as much as 50 percent.
“Consumers are getting hit with high prices at the pump and vehicle mileage performance that doesn’t measure up,” said Ann Wright, senior policy analyst of Consumers Union.
A recent survey by Consumer Reports’ National Research Center found 37% of respondents are looking for more fuel-efficient transportation.
Congress has not allowed the EPA to update its fuel economy data on window stickers since the 1980s. Even more faulty numbers, which date back to 1970s testing methods, are used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in checking to see if auto manufacturers are complying with CAFÉ standards. Automakers have been allowed to test their vehicles under optimal conditions and may use hand-built prototypes to get the best mileage in the test.
A bi-partisan bill – S. 3543 – has been introduced in the Senate that improves the fuel efficiency standards of cars and trucks by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years. In addition, the bill updates the Environmental Protection Agency’s decades-old fuel economy data used on new-car window stickers to reflect real-world driving patterns and real-life miles per gallon that consumers are getting from the cars and trucks they buy and to use that data in compliance with MPG standards under the CAFÉ program. “It is an energy smart bill that will shrink the nation’s growing demand for oil and lead to greater savings at the pump,” added Wright.
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