NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Official Hybrid Gas Mileage Estimates May Be Overstated

March 5, 2013

With rising energy costs and environmental concerns, great attention is paid to cars' gas mileage. Hybrid vehicles, which use a combination of an electric and internal combustion engine or are powered solely by electricity, have been hyped as getting great mileage. However, official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates may be overrating the gas mileage of hybrids, says USA Today.

The EPA is now reevaluating how it tests these vehicles, which could result in the EPA changing the official estimates displayed on the stickers of vehicles at dealerships. The agency's action comes after Consumer Reports wrote that its gas mileage in real-world use of Ford's new C-Max crossover and Fusion sedan hybrids, 37 miles per gallon and 39 overall, respectively, fell far short of their EPA ratings of 47 in mixed driving.

  • Hybrid vehicles are much more sensitive to driving habits and a hybrid that is driven aggressively might get far worse gas mileage than its window-sticker rating.
  • Two California law firms are consolidating suits by hundreds of owners of Ford Fusion and C-Max hybrids into a class action.
  • In another case, Hyundai and Kia are close to settlement after the courts ruled that the companies submitted faulty test results to the EPA whose investigation is ongoing.

As the hybrid industry develops rapidly, it is important that EPA mileage ratings are accurate. New testing methods need to be developed to ensure that consumers have an accurate estimation of the costs and benefits of investing in this new technology.

Source: Chris Woodyard, "EPA Evaluating How It Rates Gas Mileage for Hybrids," USA Today, February 28, 2013.


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