EPA Fuel Economy Greenwash

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 6:58 PM

I have always considered the Miles Per Gallon estimates a more marketing the actual fact. A look at these estimates through the lens of green washing we can see that they are somewhat misleading. First we should determine what ratings are, the EPA Fuel Economy Ratings are actually provided by the manufactures to the EPA. The ratings are calculated through controlled conditions in a laboratory environment. It is also interesting to note that auto manufactures do not necessarily need to test the car you drive. They often, according to the EPA, only are required to test a represented sample and that is often a production prototype. It is also interesting side note that especially large vehicles (built by the big 3) are exempt from the law that requires testing. Again, according to the EPA any vehicle over 8500 gross vehicle weight fits these categories, which as luck would have it, are the worst polluters.
I have also found some discussion that the very way we look a mileage is made to confuse consumers and hide how much fuel we use. Richard Larrick and Jack Soll of Duke University conducted a study that showed that people have trouble understanding the current MPG ratings. They recommend expressing fuel effency as gallons per mile rather than miles per gallon. There suggustion is that “18 mpg becomes 5.5 gallons per 100 miles, and 28 mpg is 3.6 gallons per 100 miles -- an $8 difference today.” This would put fuel economy in more real terms that average consumers could understand.
You can see their article and a helpful chart here:
http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/06/19/gallons.mile.would.help.car.shoppers.make.better.decisions

EPA fuel economy website.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/which_tested.shtml

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