Amid Honda Small Claims Case, Ford Makes Beeline for "Real-World" Mileage Claims

By Jason Davis | February 06, 2012
Quick, how many of you enthusiasts and consumers really understand how the Environmental Protection Agency tests cars and trucks for fuel economy? Did you know that the EPA tests vehicles under a simulated "real-world" environment inside a laboratory? Or that cars are not actually driven by people, but by dynamometer rollers? (Enthusiasts know dynos as the machines that measure engine horsepower, and by extension, manliness). This is the EPA's statement, grabbed from, for how they test mileage claims: "Fuel economy is measured under controlled conditions in a laboratory using a standardized test procedure specified by federal law. Manufacturers test their own vehicles—usually pre-production prototypes—and report the results to EPA. EPA reviews the results and confirms about 10-15 percent of them through their own tests at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory." This is a little disconcerting, is it not? In fact, Heather Peters, the Honda Civic Hybrid owner who took Honda to small claims court and won, happens to agree. Though her victory will be appealed and moved to higher court, she basically got the court to agree that the EPA's numbers are wildly inaccurate...for that one car. But how many of you have noticed that your own vehicles measure short of the official EPA claim? It's been a week and already, rival automakers are scrambling to appear more honest to consumers. Ford, specifically, is focused on real-world fuel economy. What does this mean? Instead of an EPA laboratory-generated number on the window sticker, Ford will focus more attention on what it feels are actual figures obtained from real driving. “As fuel economy becomes more important, all the manufacturers are looking to be more dramatic in their advertising claims,” Jim Farley, Ford's Global marketing Chief. “They’re using the EPA fuel label as a third-party claim. I have no idea about how the satisfaction of customers and the difference with EPA and all that will play out in small claims litigation, but all I do know is the Ford team is laser- focused on real-world fuel economy."'s take: We think this is an excellent idea for consumers and manufacturers alike. Honesty is the best policy, after all. Right? Source: Ford