Learning to live with MPG averages

DEARBORN, MI-The MPG mixup involving Hyundai and Kia in November sparked a better-than-expected turnout here at a Center for Automotive Research briefing December 6, but researchers from a variety of sources shed sorely-needed light on the methods and problems of determining the MPG averages which every vehicle purchaser has to see on the ‘Monroney stickers’ mandated by federal law. Hyundai and Kia got into costly trouble by inscribing overstated MPG averages for 2012 and early 2013 models.

Briefing speakers and attendees balked at airing their views of the ‘South Korean automakers’ overreach.

But it is certain that no automaker or supplier will dare to claim 40 MPG or MPG averages on their future window stickers in the aftermath of the precision the briefing speakers exhibited in their reports on how MPG averages are calculated by NHTSA and EPA.

Here is a summary of highlights and speaker focuses:

1. Dr. Jay Baron, Center for Auto Research CEO. “A complexity of methods and systems will be needed to reach the Federal Administrations’ 34.5 MPG average target. It’s uncertain whether consumers will pay for the costs of doing so. “So what else is new?

2. Julie Becker, environmental V-P, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers: “The day of intra-industry disputes is over. Sharing processes is now commonplace.” 43 models will be hybridized by 2015, so sharing is necessary.

3. Dr. David Greene, Research Economics professor at University of Tennessee, fellow of Oak Ridge National Lab: “In our studies of consumer reactions to new economy rules and standards, we find there is concern over what impact there will be on prices and emissions. What’s more the oil industry needs to deliver low-carbon gas and could stir up resistance if prices are forced up too much.”

4. John Viera, globalization sustainability and environmental matters, Ford (only automaker on program): “A Ford-wide education process for customers is being developed for dealers on hybrid and all-electric vehicles, especially in the cities.
“We began economizing a few years ago on urging V-6 for V-8 engines on F-150
pickups, so we’re aware of public reactions coming with hybrid and pure electric

“Our messages to customers and ads will stress savings in gas use, higher MPG
averages, lower prices and not least ECO-boost across the lineup, which lists the
Fusion as “green car of the year.”

Adversarial is out and sharing in, as the econocar era gets underway, that’s a no-brainer.