Alliance Calls for Fuel Economy Testing Improvements to Complement Historic White House-Automaker Agreement

Release Date: Friday, July 29, 2011

Washington, D.C., July 29, 2011 – The Alliance to Save Energy today praised the historic agreement between the Obama Administration and U.S. automakers to dramatically increase fuel economy standards.  

In commenting on the agreement, Alliance President Kateri Callahan said, “American consumers will reap the economic benefits of new and more efficient technologies, our nation will reap the energy security benefits that accrue with reduced reliance on imported oil, and all peoples of the world will benefit from the environmental improvements that stem from lowered energy consumption.”

“But,” she added, “the full economic, national security and social benefits of the standards cannot be realized unless and until the government updates the woefully out-of-date testing procedures currently used to measure a vehicle’s fuel economy.”

Testing Procedures Date to Mid-1970s

The test procedures used for fuel economy standards date from the mid-1970s, when air conditioning was not standard and the national speed limit was just 55 miles an hour. In addition, the testing does not take into account technological changes in vehicles over the last 35 years. 

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency has updated the procedure used for car labels and other emissions standards multiple times, by law the more accurate tests cannot be used in the fuel economy standards for cars, nor have they been used in fuel economy standards for light trucks or in carbon dioxide emissions standards. As a result, the outmoded criteria result in fuel economy numbers that are about 20 percent higher than what drivers can really expect on the road, though the discrepancy varies widely among vehicles. 

“For many years, the Alliance has been calling upon Congress to use accurate fuel economy testing procedures in setting the standards,” Callahan continued. “The very welcome new standards require using the best testing procedures and accounting rules if we want manufacturers to focus on saving real oil, rather than getting the best score in an inaccurate test.”