Fuel fig­ures ‘mis­lead’ car buy­ers

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

LON­DON — Con­sumers could be spend­ing an av­er­age of thou­sands more on fuel a year than they thought they would as a re­port by in­de­pen­dent Bri­tish con­sumer com­pany which sug­gests man­u­fac­tur­ers are mis­lead­ing con­sumers by over­stat­ing the fuel-econ­omy fig­ures to make their cars seem more ef­fi­cient.

The re­port found that only three of the 200 mod­els tested by the com­pany across 2013 and 2014 reached the of­fi­cial miles-per-gal­lon (mpg) fig­ure stated in in­for­ma­tion sup­plied by their man­u­fac­turer, with cars fall­ing short by an av­er­age of 13 per­cent.

In con­trast, the Mit­subishi Out­lander PHEV hy­brid was the worst per­form­ing ve­hi­cle, only man­ag­ing 67mpg in testing de­spite the of­fi­cial fig­ures sug­gest­ing it could achieve 148mpg. It means that the an­nual fuel cost more than dou­bles to £841 (M14 643).

Fuel ef­fi­ciency tests have not been up­dated since 1997 and as a re­sult Which?, and other con­sumer or­gan­i­sa­tions, be­lieve “it sim­ply doesn’t rep­re­sent real-world driv­ing and is rid­dled with loop­holes”.

The New Euro­pean Driv­ing Cy­cle (NEDC), cur­rently used to cal­cu­late mpg fig­ures, has not been up­dated to ac­count for re­cent ad­vances in mo­tor­ing that in­clude the use of stop-start and hy­brid tech­nol­ogy.

In ad­di­tion, the test is car­ried out with all an­cil­lary loads turned off, mean­ing that air con­di­tion­ing, heated win­dows and lights are all turned off to in­crease ef­fi­ciency.

Roof rails, ex­tra lights and door mir­rors can be re­moved to make the car lighter and there is no re­stric­tion on the air pres­sure of tyres.

As a re­sult, Which? is call­ing for the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to in­tro­duce its new testing pro­ce­dure in two years’ time, as sched­uled, de­spite it “fac­ing heavy pres­sure from the car in­dus­try to de­lay the change un­til 2020”.

It says the process “needs to be com­pleted prop­erly with­out rush­ing to meet un­re­al­is­tic dead­lines, so that it is ro­bust”.

The new test will closely mir­ror the one car­ried out by which uses a rolling road, al­low­ing the test to be com­pleted in ex­actly the same way ev­ery time.

The which test cy­cle also in­cludes more com­pre­hen­sive testing at higher speeds where cars burn more fuel, and is car­ried out with the air con­di­tion­ing, head­lights, and ra­dio on. Which ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Richard Lloyd said: “The cost of fuel is one of the big­gest con­cerns for con­sumers which is why fuel ef­fi­ciency has be­come an im­por­tant sell­ing point for new cars.

“The new test should be brought in with­out de­lay so con­sumers are no longer mis­led by fan­tasy mpg fig­ures.”

But Mit­subishi Mo­tors UK man­ag­ing direc­tor Lance Bradley dis­puted the claims.

He said: “The cur­rent test regime for emis­sions and fuel con­sump­tion test is out­dated and does the in­dus­try no favours but the sug­ges­tion that we in some way are mis­lead­ing car buy­ers is well wide of the mark and ir­re­spon­si­ble.”

All man­u­fac­tur­ers are re­quired to put their cars through a strict of­fi­cial test, called the NEDC (New Euro­pean Drive Cy­cle).

This has been around since the 1970s and, Mit­subishi says, makes no ac­count of new plug-in hy­brid tech­nol­ogy.

As the Out­lander PHEV can be driven un­der elec­tric power alone, it can com­plete part of its jour­ney (32.5 miles of­fi­cially) with­out us­ing any fuel. This af­fects the of­fi­cial fuel con- sump­tion tests. If the ve­hi­cle is used mainly for lots of small jour­neys be­tween charges it will use very lit­tle fuel, mean­ing it’ll be more ef­fi­cient than the of­fi­cial 148mpg fig­ure.

Al­ter­na­tively, if it is used for long jour­neys with­out be­ing charged, it will use con­sid­er­ably more fuel.

— Mo­tor­ingre­search

Car man­u­fac­tur­ers have been ac­cused of mis­lead­ing cus­tomers about fuel ef­fi­ciency.

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