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Hybrid Cars to Get New Mileage Ratings

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the creative-math dept.

Power 781

Skidge writes "Wired is running a piece showing the drastically reduced mileage ratings for hybrids after the upcoming changes in gas mileage calculations by the EPA. While the cars themselves aren't changing, plugging these new numbers in to the equation makes a hybrid much less cost effective: "The two top-selling hybrid vehicles, the Prius and Honda's Civic Hybrid, will lose 12 and 11 miles per gallon respectively from their city driving estimates." The new values come from more realistic testing; the old, over-inflated ratings were higher in part because the cars idled a lot, allowing the hybrids to completely turn off their engines. The new ratings should be more in line with what hybrid drivers are actually seeing."

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781 comments

Sampling? (5, Interesting)

powerpants (1030280) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115597)

It's important to have accurate mileage ratings on cars, and it's hard to understand how the EPA could be so bad at it. Why do they try to estimate instead of just sampling?

Here's a simple approach: When a car comes in for an oil change, read the mileage rating stored inthe on-board computer and upload it to an EPA database. Problem solved.

Re:Sampling? (5, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115685)

Catch-22. They like to have a "real" number before the car starts selling, but via your method they'd need to sell enough to get an accurate sample.

Re:Sampling? (2, Informative)

michrech (468134) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116065)

Catch-22. They like to have a "real" number before the car starts selling, but via your method they'd need to sell enough to get an accurate sample.

Many cars are driven around in "normal situations" by test drivers. Many car magazine photographers do their best to try to get snaps of these cars.. They could use the data from these cars to do their estimates. For cars that aren't test driven, they could start.

My car (an '07 Caliber) was rated at "28 to 32 MPG". I consistently get 26 or less. :(

Re:Sampling? (1, Interesting)

aug24 (38229) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115715)

Simple: because that would skew the sample towards mileage of people who either pay to have their oil changed or have it changed more regularly.

Estimation is intended to produce a balanced result. Heavy on the 'intended', of course ;-)

J.

Re:Sampling? (2, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115769)

While technically a valid approach, this opens the door for red flags from privacy advocates. I'm not as paranoid as the most ardent advocates, but I can see where the slope starts getting slippery.

Remember that the more avenues you open up for the government to have information about you, the more you open up the possibility of them doing things with it that you will not be happy about. History has shown that once you put more power and information in the government's hands, the likelihood of removing it is very slim.

Re:Sampling? (2, Insightful)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115813)

Well that will tell them the mileage, but it wont tell them how many gallons of gas were used to achieve that mileage - unless you have to input your VIN every time you buy gas to track that as well.

Re:Sampling? (1)

Insightfill (554828) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116171)

Well that will tell them the mileage, but it wont tell them how many gallons of gas were used to achieve that mileage - unless you have to input your VIN every time you buy gas to track that as well.

I think the parent is referring to those computers with built-in MPG displays. The oil-change computer would grab THAT displayed number, which is readily available.

That would still leave the question as to whether it reflects a city or highway cycle, but just clarifying for the parent.

Re:Sampling? (2, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116203)

My car (Buick) and a lot of other cars that I've seen keep a mileage rating in the dashboard. Currently an avg. of 27,4 mpg. But still, it would be skewed since I drive a lot and I drive fast (80mph+) making it to use more gas than the average person that buys said car.

You must be new here. (0, Troll)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115827)

The US automakers have been fighting to keep the current standards for decades so that they can tout the "Great Milage" that their cars have. Now that something has come along that looks even better that the standard (read fossil fuel only) autos look worse, they probably have done some back door lobbying to change over to this new formula.

Re:You must be new here. (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116083)

Don't mind the fact that the fuel efficiency estimates have gone down for ALL vehicles, not just hybrids. Also please continue to ignore the existence of several hybrid and E85 models from US automakers.

Re:Sampling? (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116149)

Their estimates ARE based on sampling of test model mileage. The "estimation" comes in guessing how close YOU will drive like the conditions used in sampling. Unfortunately, the driving conditions don't represent those of real life conditions. As an added bonus: manufacturers are allowed to hand pick which models they send to the EPA for testing. This allows them to bend the rules a bit by tweaking the cars they send in as opposed to picking them off the production line just as they are shipped to dealers.

Realistic Ratings (1, Funny)

lessthanjakejohn (766177) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115605)

So how does this compare with what drivers are actually getting?

Re:Realistic Ratings (0)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115735)

The problem is that there are a lot of factors that go into your gas mileage beyond just the design and features of your car. There's also maintenance (the guy who's tires are always 10psi under pressure because he never checks them will get worse mileage than the guy who keeps them properly inflated), driving style (aggressive drivers get worse mileage), and even location (hot vs. cold, hilly vs. flat, lots of traffic on the road vs. empty roads).

I hear people complain all of the time about how they don't get as much mileage as the sticker said they would, but personally I tend to exceed the sticker's rating, especially in the city. I don't have a hybrid though. I also think it's odd that the hybrids aren't getting the MPG they said because the EPA's testing involves a lot of sitting at red lights? Everybody's MPG is 0 when sitting at a light (well, I guess it's undefined with a Hybrid because the engine is off). I can see where regular cars would be lowballed by that assumption, but I'm not sure why it was giving such a massive advantage to hybrids.

Re:Realistic Ratings (1)

imaginaryelf (862886) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116295)

Imagine a hypothetical test where the cars idled for 2 hours and then drove for 1 mile.

For 2 hours, the gas guzzler is using up gas, but the hybird is using nothing - no electricity and no gas since it's shut off.

MPG = miles divided by gallons. If the gallons used is 0 in the hybrid for the idle period, then it is already way ahead. For a hybrid, the longer the idle period, the smaller the divisor, and therefore, the larger the MPG.

Re:Realistic Ratings (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19115765)


So how does this compare with what drivers are actually getting?

My milage in my Hummer isn't as good as what that chart says. I get in the car, let the engine warm up for a couple of minutes. Drive to Tim Hortons and sit in the line for 15 minutes with the engine running. Leave Tim's, head to work. At coffee I'll drive to Starbucks for my Double Whoopee Extra Whiz Grande Fudgachino Mochagay.

All in all I get about half a tank to the kilometer.

Strange but true (2, Informative)

SheldonLinker (231134) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115863)

Unlike most cars, the Prius gives enough feedback to actually help. By learning how the car works, I'm actually getting 2 MPG better than the posted ratings for city driving.

On the flip side of this, I just got back from a trip, Irvine to Phoenix and back, and the actual MPG was 3 MPG less than the posted ratings. However, that was with the air conditioner set at 72F and High.

Accurate for my single data point, anyway (2, Informative)

raygundan (16760) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115865)

My wife's Prius is averaging right around 47mpg in mixed city/highway driving after about two years. She doesn't do anything special while driving-- just treats it like any other car. Since the new rating is 48/45/46, it sounds like they're right on the money.

It's about damn time the EPA revised their ridiculously inaccurate tests. The data has been off for years, for all cars.

In other news... (4, Funny)

shakestheclown (887041) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115621)

In other news, the miles per gallon rating of the bicycle was also drastically reduced today by the US government.

But on the brighter side of things, the Hummer is now rated at 75mpg on the highway.

Re:In other news... (3, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115809)

In other news, the miles per gallon rating of the bicycle was also drastically reduced today by the US government.

Yeah, I heard on the Discovery Channel that a bicycle gets infinite mpg, but now the EPA says it's only *countably* infinite mpg.

Re:In other news... (1)

Dorceon (928997) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116047)

Bikes get infinite MPG because drinking any non-zero amount of gasoline is almost certainly fatal, and at the very least will leave you unable to ride a bike for a while. The real question is how many miles per gallon of orange juice (which is more expensive than gasoline still, but is at least renewable).

Re:In other news... (2, Funny)

davburns (49244) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116303)

I can do 30-40 miles on my first 1.5 liters of water + .5 liters of gatoraid. That works out to 57-76 mpg. (calm, cool day, moderate hills)

(But then, that's probably only comparable to cars using up coolant and motor oil; the energy for the trip generally does not come in liquid form, and I don't know the volumentric measurements of bannanas and begals..)

Re:In other news... (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116263)

the Hummer is now rated at 75mpg on the highway.

For more information about the All New 2007 Mileage Ratings, contact the newly renamed Department of General Motors Vehicles.

How to drive a hybrid (5, Informative)

Anarchysoft (1100393) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115627)

I thought the key to getting good mileage with a hybrid was understanding how to drive it properly and, when that was done, folks were getting close to the listed mileage.

Re:How to drive a hybrid (1, Interesting)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115661)

Problem is... NOBODY drives "properly." The new numbers released by the EPA are much, much closer to what 90% of drivers are going to get when it comes to fuel consumption.

Re:How to drive a hybrid (1)

pete.com (741064) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115759)

It has a lot to do with where (and when) in the city you are driving. If you use all non-interstate, or very congested interstate roads with lower speeds, the gas milage is very good. If you travel a lot on interstate roads with average 65 - 70 MPH speed the gas milage is much, much lower.

Re:How to drive a hybrid (5, Informative)

BendingSpoons (997813) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116129)

I thought the key to getting good mileage with a hybrid was understanding how to drive it properly and, when that was done, folks were getting close to the listed mileage.
Not really. I drive an '06 Civic Hybrid, which is listed at 49mpg city/50mpg highway. I am a very fuel-efficient driver and I get - at the most - 42 mpg when I drive around Philadelphia. And that's when I'm pissing off every driver behind me by accelerating slowly/coasting/etc. And under optimal weather conditions.

The highway estimate is a little more accurate. Cruising at 65-68 mph under optimal conditions (no AC, etc.) I usually get around 47 mph.

It's also kind of funny how much the weather affects my MPG. Cold weather drops me down at least 5 MPG. I'm not sure if that's particular to hybrids, or if that's every car.

Re:How to drive a hybrid (1)

Seraphim1982 (813899) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116307)

It's also kind of funny how much the weather affects my MPG. Cold weather drops me down at least 5 MPG. I'm not sure if that's particular to hybrids, or if that's every car.

When you say the cold affects your MPG, are you taking into account that the gas you get in the summer isn't the same as the gas you get in the winter? The different formulations of gas can have a measurable effect on MPG.

Not just for hybrids (5, Informative)

PaisteUser (810863) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115667)

It's important to note that these new ratings also change the mileage estimates for pure gasoline engines as well.

Re:Not just for hybrids (2, Funny)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115707)

So a Hummer is getting -10mpg now?

Why so much Hummer Hatred? (3, Insightful)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115893)

What is with all the Hummer Hatred?

There are three factors which determine how ecconomical (and environmental) your transportation is:

1) What you drive
2) How much you drive
3) How you drive

Personally, I don't drive a Hummer nor do I drive a prius (I don't want to own either car because they do not suit my needs or wants) but I'm positive I have better "Fuel Ecconomy" than either car. My feet get me far greater mileage than any car and I use them far more than my car; I end up using transit a lot too.

I used to get a lot of negative comments about the truck I used to drive (15 year old F150) even though I filled it up every 6 weeks whereas most of the "environmental" civic drivers were filling up their cars 1 or 2 times a week.

The car matters far less than the driver

Re:Why so much Hummer Hatred? (5, Funny)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115989)

It's probably because they're three lanes wide, weigh six tons, and get about five-miles-per-gallon highway. Doesn't hurt that they're ugly and most people who drive them drive like dicks.

Re:Why so much Hummer Hatred? (1)

kalel666 (587116) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116267)

they're three lanes wide, weigh six tons, and get about five-miles-per-gallon

Can you name the truck with four wheel drive,
smells like a steak and seats thirty-five...

Canyonero! Canyonero!

Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down,
It's the country-fried truck endorsed by a clown!

Canyonero! (Yah!) Canyonero!
[Krusty:] Hey Hey

The Federal Highway comission has ruled the
Canyonero unsafe for highway or city driving.

Canyonero!

12 yards long, 2 lanes wide,
65 tons of American Pride!

Canyonero! Canyonero!

Top of the line in utility sports,
Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts!

Canyonero! Canyonero! (Yah!)

She blinds everybody with her super high beams,
She's a squirrel crushing, deer smacking, driving machine!

Canyonero!-oh woah, Canyonero! (Yah!)

Drive Canyonero!

Woah Canyonero!

Woah!

Re:Why so much Hummer Hatred? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19116015)

What is with all the Hummer Hatred?

They are shit 'cars' for a sick society. If you 'drive' a Hummer, you are - almost by definition - a total asshole with no aesthetic taste, no interest in cars, no basic grasp of physics and no financial sense. You are, for all intets and purposes, an American idiot.

Re:Why so much Hummer Hatred? (5, Insightful)

robogun (466062) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116165)

AC remarked: They are shit 'cars' for a sick society. If you 'drive' a Hummer, you are - almost by definition - a total asshole with no aesthetic taste, no interest in cars, no basic grasp of physics and no financial sense. You are, for all intets and purposes, an American idiot.

I doubt it has anything to do with Americans being the way they are. Hummer driving, like driving V12 Benzes and BWMs 200kph on the autobahn, is conspicuous consumption. This is a species-wide phenomenon which proves they have the resources to burn & some like Freud would say, proves their fitness for reproduction in attracting the female of the species.

Re:Why so much Hummer Hatred? (5, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116169)

What is with all the Hummer Hatred?

It's too damn big. You youngsters probably don't remember this, but there was a time when you could actually see what's going on ahead of you in traffic.

Re:Not just for hybrids (1)

cabinetsoft (923481) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115891)

It's important to note that these new ratings also change the mileage estimates for pure gasoline engines as well.
Not quite true considering "the old, over-inflated ratings were higher in part because the cars idled a lot, allowing the hybrids to completely turn off their engines". A petrol / diesel still eats up quite a lot of gas when idling... idling less and doing the same distance will result in a better MPG.

Re:Not just for hybrids (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116071)


This is true, but its not going to have as significant an impact on those cars as it does on hybrids because the test was heavily biased to the hybrids. I mean the test has been around for a long time and all cars used to be pretty much the same.

Its not like the old estimates were that far off for gas vehicles (in my experience) but hybrids did something that the test was not designed to measure and it ended up giving an edge case result that was way off of what drivers were actually seeing in the cars. Its not surprising that the EPA tests didnt handle a new type of vehicle very well.

Re:Not just for hybrids Yaris (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19116117)

yep, and I get between 44 and 48 mpg on my Yaris, which is better than the old ratings.

No... the invalid ratings are due to poor testing (5, Interesting)

jkerman (74317) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115723)

Far as i know they still test EPA mileage ratings by using an exhaust sniffer and rollers.... indoors.... it fails to account for AIR RESISTANCE!

far as im concerned they should require someone to /actually drive/ the damn car through an /actual city/ and average the results to get the fuel rating.

Re:No... the invalid ratings are due to poor testi (2, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115859)

And exactly how is this fair?

To test everything evenly you need a constant situation that will not change without you manually changing it, a "real city" is the complete opposite of this. So if Tuesday you get stuck behind a bus and on Wednesday you've got the rad to yourself, the results are clearly quite different.

Re:No... the invalid ratings are due to poor testi (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115917)

far as im concerned they should require someone to /actually drive/ the damn car through an /actual city/ and average the results to get the fuel rating.

How can you do this in a way that will result in reproducible results? If I want to contest the findings, I'd need to be able to verify them independently by performing a controlled experiment. Real driving does not offer any controls to the experiment -- you'll get too many variables and won't have a clear picture of what you're actually observing.

Re:No... the invalid ratings are due to poor testi (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116147)

Simple, you get a big track. First you do laps where you vary the speed on each lap but dont stop. Then you turn on traffic lights on the track that you have to obey. there's no need to actually enter traffic to simulate it. You just need a set of rules to behave by.

Or, you just stick the think in a wind tunnel and determine some drag values and add them to the calculation, or make the manufacturer who surely has already done this turn over some data. This is probably the better solution at it completely removes how people drive.

Re:No... the invalid ratings are due to poor testi (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116013)

I'm not so sure. By driving through an "actual city", you open up the test to biases about what that particular voyage had to deal with (more/less traffic, stops, having to go different speeds), etc. The reason for the test method is not so much that it simulates real driving, but to have an apples-to-apples comparison between the various cars. Even if it doesn't match the gas mileage you actually get, it's still useful for knowing how it compares. So don't think "I will get 25 mpg with this car"; instead think, "I will get 25% better gas mileage than this other car rated at 20 mpg".

Re:No... the invalid ratings are due to poor testi (1)

tiedyejeremy (559815) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116031)

When I put my 21.5cu foot cargo carrier on top of my hybrid Ford Escape, my highway mileage drops of dramatically.

Re:No... the invalid ratings are due to poor testi (1)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116113)

The entire point of the EPA milage guide is to provide a comparison between different cars. Even if they were to do an actual drive through an actual city for their fuel ratings, it will still be different from what *you* get. If you test every car in exactly the same way under controlled conditions, then you will get an even comparison for its fuel usage. It's like taking every model car produced for the American market for exactly the same drive at exactly the same time to determine which one gets better milage. You'd have to violate some laws of space and time to do that in the real world.

Consumer reports tests this way. (1)

guidryp (702488) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116175)

CR does a city loop and a HW loop and they get much more realistic numbers for both tests. Their city numbers are much lower than old EPA, while the highway numbers are generally a bit higher.

I also like Edmunds.com long term tests. They drive a car for months/years and you get a averaged over many tanks number back. They get fairly low numbers and tend to make hybrid/diesel owners whine that the mileage can't be that bad...

not just hybrids (2, Informative)

Chris Chiasson (908287) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115761)

As I understood it (a few years ago), the tests were not changed for a long time for several reasons, among them were easy comparisons to old data. Also, AFAIK, the test MPG numbers were already automatically scaled back by 20% (for all cars) before being placed on window stickers. By the way, I think all cars were benefiting from the tests (because the tests didn't reflect real world driving and tended to overestimate the MPG) - it is just that hybrid cars were really able to abuse the tests.

Re:not just hybrids (1)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116225)

I really don't see how lower fuel consumption due to turning off the engine while stopped (or driving slow) in traffic constitutes "abuse". In the end, it's still a lower gas bill.

not about payback time (5, Insightful)

Stoertebeker (1005619) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115785)

It's sad how every article about hybrids always focuses on how many years it takes to save enough gas to pay fro the added cost of the car. That's not what it is about! Especially not if you use the gas prices in a country where said price is held artificially low!
It's about how much more we could do by using technology in a sensible way rather than spending it on finding ways to allow every Joe to accelerate a 7 ton monster truck 0-60 in under 4 seconds!

Re:not about payback time (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116007)

Maybe it's not about payback time, but...

Even with the degraded mileage figures for both Prius and Camry, (non-hybrid) they suggest that it will take 1.2 years to break even, using some sort of "average" driving and mileage statistics. But at the front of the article, they specify this at $2.70/gal gasoline. Prices right now are well above that, and it seems to me that $2.70/gal is closer to a low figure for the past year than any sort of average.

I keep gasoline records for my vehicles, I guess it's a family idiosyncrasy. But the other day someone looked at the book for our 2000 Toyota Sienna, and noticed that over its life the price of gasoline has more than doubled. Does anyone believe that that isn't going to continue to happen? So any vehicle bought now and kept for 7 years, count on paying upwards of $6.00/gal later in its life. That changes the break-even point, just a little.

BTW, the Prius just doesn't have the necessary headroom for tall people. In the efficient vehicle category that you can wrap around a tall person, the Honda Accord looks pretty good. Some of the VWs look good too, as well as having TDI engines. But Consumer Reports hates them for long-term.

Re:not about payback time (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116231)

Some of the VWs look good too, as well as having TDI engines. But Consumer Reports hates them for long-term.

Out of curiosity, what's Consumer Reports' complaint with the VW TDI?

Re:not about payback time (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116213)


remember that things are usually more expensive because they require more energy (and that means burned fuel unfortunately) then the cheaper version. Those batteries don't just cost money, they have a very real environmental impact. I'm not saying its a 1:1 ratio but people who love hybrids are usually loathe to think about that just as much as people who hate them like to talk about how many years it will take to make up the cost difference.

Re:not about payback time (5, Insightful)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116229)

I'm afraid it actually *is* about how many years it takes to save enough gas to pay fro the added cost of the car.

When the green movement can give me technology that at least maintains my current lifestyle, while showing savings on the bottom line within a year or two, I'll go for it. Until then, well, it can keep selling to the true believers.

Re:not about payback time (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116245)

It's sad how every article about hybrids always focuses on how many years it takes to save enough gas to pay fro the added cost of the car. That's not what it is about! Especially not if you use the gas prices in a country where said price is held artificially low!
It's about how much more we could do by using technology in a sensible way rather than spending it on finding ways to allow every Joe to accelerate a 7 ton monster truck 0-60 in under 4 seconds!

What is wrong with Joe wanting to accelrate a 7-ton monster from zero to 60 in under 4 seconds? Instead of dictating to these folks how they should drive, how about improving the technology to make such driving more efficient? Pair up electric motors with a few batteries on these 7-ton monsters that charge up specifically for the purpose of helping the vehicle accelerate its mass more efficiently than just the motor alone.

Here is my solution for all current and future cars. Nearly all car engines are now computer-controlled. The computer controls the air flow, fuel mix, timing, everything! Continue to market the cars with the big HP numbers, but on every dashboard, have a multi-mode selector. High MPG Mode would tell the computer to lean out the fuel mix. You get lower HP, but you get improved MPG for that commute. Need to tow something now? Switch to High HP Mode. Such a device would cost all of 10 cents to install since the engine already does this number trickery during its learning process.

Re:not about payback time (2, Insightful)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116327)

Oh, and BTW, is it at all possible that gas prices in other countries are *artificially* *high*?

I mean, how much tax is there on a gallon of gas in, say, the UK? I lived in the UK for a couple of years in the 80's, have loads of relatives there, and visit regularly. I know for a fact that government policy is to keep gas prices as high as possible (just right below where the peasants start to rebel) in order to encourage people to use public transport.

In other news (4, Funny)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115791)

The smug cloud that's been threatening San Francisco appears to be dispersing.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19115895)

Yep, but at least we can see through our smug cloud.

My actual results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19115797)

As of yesterday for the most recent tank of gas, my 2005 Prius averaged 58 mpg over 210 miles. So there.

Re:My actual results (1)

Stoertebeker (1005619) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115971)

Lifetime average over 107000 miles on my Insight (EPA rating 68/60): 68.3

Re:My actual results (1)

dfoulger (1044592) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116253)

That's amazingly good. My average, over 104,000, is 61.8 mpg. I'm not complaining at all, as my easily fall inside the range that I could expect under the "old" EPA rating system. I suspect that the new EPA estimates will more correctly project the mileage of regular cars and somewhat underestimate the mileage of hybrids.

Hybrid are about performance not just MP (2, Interesting)

f0dder (570496) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115815)

Help me out.. my understanding of a hybrid system was to bring performance to what are normally gutless high mpg 5spd low HP gas engines. If we only focused on high MPG then your 3cyl Geo Metro should of sufficed. But they sold poorly because they're gutless and for many reasons the market are not receptive to driving stick. A lot of folks keep bringing up the VW TDI diesels. But I looked at the performance numbers (ie 0-70 from consumer reports and the prius has better numbers). Are we to only focus on MPG becuase in the past they didn't sell well. Then again that was when gas was cheap. Will the market forgo performance for high MPG?

Re:Hybrid are about performance not just MP (2, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116035)

A very solid point! A gutless IC engine can be pushed really far for efficiency. You can lean out the mixture and drop the power output (you'll get more NOx I believe though). A hybrid does a few things for ya, it will recoup power from braking, it will allow a better fuel:air mixture (less NOx emissions), and it will augment your power on acceleration to make up for the gutlessness of the IC engine. If performance isn't an issue, then yes, a mid 80's civic can probably be pushed to 60mpg it you're willing to drive it.

As for the VW TDI, I have one, I love it. I get 600-700 miles per tank, I average around 43mpg. It's not a rocket, but it's peppy, enough for quick highway merges and passing. The only downside is that in 2k8 there's going to be like 10 new Diesels on the market in the US (Honda, Toyota, the new VWs, and I'm sure some more), and Diesel demand is going to jump. Increasing Diesel prices means higher shipping costs, which will lead directly to inflation. On the bright side though, there are more and more biodiesel plants coming online. There's a soy->BD plant being built just a few miles from my house, and I keep hearing little news bits about algae farms making progress. Provided those farms become a reality, BD100 > E85.

-Rick

Re:Hybrid are about performance not just MP (1)

evil_Tak (964978) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116321)

I didn't see the performance numbers in consumer reports, but my fiancee and I drive a Jetta TDI. The mileage is outstanding (we're moderately aggressive drivers), and performance is perfectly adequate (not once has acceleration been a problem), but it's a 5-speed manual.

The market may not be receptive to driving stick, but in that case it had better be receptive to higher price, reduced performance, and lower gas mileage, because that's the tradeoff for the go-kart convenience of not actually having to learn to drive.

Huh? (4, Interesting)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115833)

I knew this was coming, and I'm a recent owner of a 2007 Prius. I'm currently averaging about 48 mpg on mainly highway driving, so I guess I'm doing better than most people out there driving these? Anybody who pays attention to the screen should be able to figure out to get the car running efficiently without needing to read up on hypermiling techniques (which will help if you want to go beyond some simple adjustments).

So how are other cars faring with the new calculations? I'd imagine it should be proportional to the current numbers?

Re:Huh? (1)

banesong (640790) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116125)

I am also a Prius owner (2004). I have routinely averaged 49 - 53 mpg on a weekly basis once I had the car for a month or so. It took a little getting used to some of the driving quirks to get the higher mpg (e.g. jackrabbiting of the light is actually a good thing), but overall, my driving style hasn't really changed from my previous vehicle (a Subaru wagon I totaled). I will admit, that I didn't really purchase this vehicle to be part of the Green movement, as I get open access to HOV with a single person, but I have become more conscious of my consumption the longer I have driven it.

Re:Huh? (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116283)


From what I have heard your results are in line with the revised estimates so you are probably driving reasonably efficiently and you are getting reasonable results. you could probably do better than the EPA if you were extra careful and worse if you were extra careless. Some people do both of those things.

If you are happy with your car at 48 MPG then that is a good thing for you and you would probalby still have bought it with a sticker that said 48MPG in the window instead of whatever it used to say.... which I gather is quite a bit more.

GreenHybrid (2, Interesting)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115837)

Looks like these numbers agree pretty well with GreenHybrid's data [greenhybrid.com] , which is composed of self-reported mileage numbers from hybrid owners. I'd still probably rely on GreenHybrid more because the EPA testing is just that, testing, not real world use.

Re:GreenHybrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19115977)

Unfortunately, that site is has a number of junk figures [greenhybrid.com] .

Realistically (5, Interesting)

bahwi (43111) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115849)

Realistically you do idle a lot. Red lights, idiot drivers, and traffic, and you're spending a lot of time idling. Not idling is not realistic. Even on highways you have some idling time, between dallas/houston(abt 4 hrs to 5 hrs) I idle about 30-45 minutes because of traffic and construction, and that's between the cities, where you can have even more traffic depending on what time. Traffic sucks, but it's a part of life. And yes, if you know how to drive a hybrid, you'll get mileage over what the EPA currently says(and drastically that over what it will say soon).

And with the tax credits (I think ending this year or ended) it's been typically cost effective depending on what type of hybrid you get. A civic hybrid from last year would have paid for itself within 8 months with my level of driving, a 3000 premium over regular civics with 2000-2500(I forget where it was last year) back from the gov't means a difference of 500-1000 to make up, which is pretty easy with how gas prices went last summer.

I hate these people who run the numbers and leave out other numbers. Tax Credits on IRS page [irs.gov]

Yeah, they aren't guaranteed, but if you buy early you can get them pretty easily. Or who say "Batteries are expensive" when they have very long warranties that cover it. If you want to pretend to know what you're talking about, then do the proper research. If you want the most cost effective vehicle, gas wise, get a bike. You have to be comfortable with your car, hybrid or not, and if you don't like them don't get them. But don't make up fake reasons.

My 2002 Saturn 2SL still averages 30 and 40 mpg .. (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115907)

in town and on the interstate at 75mph, respectively, after 50,000 miles of travel. My best, so far, is 33 mpg in town and 43.5 mpg on the interstate.

It is a 4 door, five speed stick shift with air and cruise control, which I use when ever my speed goes over 30 mph. I run unleaded 87 octane Shell gasoline, found anywhere. I've often wondered about the "hybrids" that boasted of 35 - 40 mpg rates but cost $25K or more when my Saturn cost $17K (five years ago).

Re:My 2002 Saturn 2SL still averages 30 and 40 mpg (1)

hador_nyc (903322) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116187)

I had a standard 2000 Honda civic, and got the same results. I found that weekly checking of my tire pressure, and regular maintenance; tune-ups, tire rotation, etc; kept those numbers up for the 5 years I owned it. I averaged 37-38 highway; between Ohio and NYC, and around 32-35 town/city; NYC and Ohio.

For the record, I sold it a year after moving to Manhattan, where I don't need it.

Re:My 2002 Saturn 2SL still averages 30 and 40 mpg (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116209)

Yeah, the earlier model Saturns were more economical. I have a Saturn V and it burns about 3 tons of fuel a second.

Re:My 2002 Saturn 2SL still averages 30 and 40 mpg (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116249)

Yes, the later SL models had great gas millage. However, the IONs which according to wikipedia will be discontinued soon, get at best 35 MPG highway. My wife has a 2005 ION 2. My 1996 SL2 gets 33 MPG these days on the expressway. GM does not make efficient cars anymore and they certainly don't care about some of their customers. I'm hoping to replace my car in the next year and there isn't an offering from GM for car buyers who want an efficient, small car. They only care about expensive, large vehicles that have high profit margins. I'm not sure what to buy since I don't like Toyota that much. Price is a big factor and car prices have increased with gas prices.

Does it really matter? (1)

Monoman (8745) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115911)

Who cares? It all depends on your driving style. If you run around do an excessive amount of speeding, accelerating, and delayed braking then you probably aren't going to get close to the EPA MPG ratings in ANY kind of vehicle.

I see it every day during my commute. SUVs speeding along, tailgating, braking, accelerating back up to speeding .... lather, rinse, repeat.

Our new car shows current MPG and MPG for each trip meter. It has done wonders for how we drive every day. It turns into a little game.

RE: Hybrids (1, Interesting)

ShrapnelFace (1001368) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115915)

I used to be the Customer Relationship Manager at a Toytota dealership- I was happy enough to have a job given that I graduated college just as the bubble burst out here in Silicon Valley.

Here are a few things that I have always known about Hybrids:

#1 The best milage comes from the most conservative driving.
#2 The batteries are more toxic than those in a normal car- and with each hybrid carrying between 5 and 7 of those batteries, they are not better for the environment.
#3 The total energy used to manufacter a hybrid vehicle is higher than what it is for a regular vehilce of same size.
#4 The depreciation rate is held up by popular opinion. This is true in all vehicles, but the steep cliff at year 6 is going to make most people unhappy, and the battery replacement at year 8 will be a very large cost to shoulder and may drive many people out of this market all togeather.
#5 There is currently no plan for the recycling of these batteries.

Most hybrids I see on the freeway are exceeding 70mph and are changing lanes frequently.
What is on the window is irrelevant given the way that most people here in the US jump in their car and blindly drive these cars with the pedal on the floor.

Re: Hybrids (1)

Stoertebeker (1005619) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116163)

#1 very true. For every vehicle, hybrid or otherwise. #2 What do you base this on? There is liquid sulfuric acid in every traditional car battery that can spill if the battery is ruptured in an accident. The NiMH batteries of hybrids are dry and nonspillable. Nickel is less toxic than lead, btw. #3 True, but how does it compare to the energy saved during its service life? #4 True, it also depends on gas prices. Since those can only go up, it bodes pretty well for hybrids. How do you know about the cliff after 6 years? The oldest hybrids around are just getting there, and I haven't seen their values plummet... #5 This just shows you have no idea what you are talking about. Recycling of NiMH is as well established a process as it is for lead-acid.

Detail is important... (1)

L0neW0lf (594121) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115953)

As others have said, the new tests lower mileage on standard gasoline vehicles too.

More importantly though, there's a lot of details that get glossed over in hybrid/standard comparisons. They skip over the lower emissions of partial-zero emissions vehicles, how cost factors might even out sooner if gasoline prices continue to rise, and how if you're a high-mileage driver (especially a city driver) you may even out sooner in your purchase than others.

On the other hand, I bought a fuel-efficient gasoline car (Honda Civic EX sedan) two years back instead. I was able to buy it slightly used from a third-party and saved myself the depreciation (a used Prius, when you can find one, is still expensive due to the low depreciation of the vehicle). I can rely on non-dealer mechanics being able to service it, costing me less. And it's still an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle, and gets reasonable gas mileage, something I need considering I have an 80 mile round-trip commute.

From Personal Experience (2, Interesting)

tarlos25 (1036572) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115955)

As an owner of a 2005 Prius, I think they're full of crap. I regularly get an average (city/highway mix) of about 55 MPG. In the summer, it goes over 60 MPG for the AVERAGE, not just the city. If I only did city driving, it would be even higher. I'm not driving very conservatively, my driving habits are about the same as they were when I started driving. I keep up with the traffic around me, and sometimes go a little faster.

Of course, when they lower the estimates, I'll just be beating their estimates by that much more.

Re:From Personal Experience (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116195)


Chiming in...

I bought a 2007 model Prius a the end of this last December.

I get 50MPG. I get about 51MPG on the highway. I don't drive any differently than I did when I was driving my '98 Cadillac Sedan Deville.

I'm starting to think that the government mileage ratings are doing more harm than good. Everyone: want to know how much gas a car consumes? Ask someone who drives one... a real person in the real world.

--Richard

Anybody Else? (1)

blankmange (571591) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115959)

Anybody else out there with a big, fat, 'told you so'? The automobile testers have been stating this very thing for years - that EPA ratings are out of whack.. and anyone who has ever purchased a car and tried to achieve the EPA ratings can attest to this as well... so all these poor reviews of hybrids are now validated...

Re:Anybody Else? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115993)

I get 3 mpg better than the EPA estimate for my '99 Camry with 2.2L 4 cylinder. what's your problem, leadfoot?

This is absurdly stupid (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115965)

Anyone with eyes and a brain can see these numbers are junk. I own a 2004 Camry. With two people in the car, on the highway, on cruise control @79mph I get 33mpg all day everyday. Anyone who tells me I'm really getting several mpg less than that is simply being a paid shill for Detroit.

What lobbyist paid 'science' are they going to discover next? The fumes from my neighbor's custom built F-450 (yes FOUR fifty) SUV is health food? C'mon people at least learn to know when they're humping your leg.

My Ford Escape Mileage (1)

tiedyejeremy (559815) | more than 6 years ago | (#19115969)

while the EPA estimates are 36/31, my reality is about 36/29.5, unless I'm on the highway on a roadtrip with my car-top carrrier and in a hurry...
then my highway mileage will drop off to about 23. That hurts.

Pleased with the new numbers (1)

ericzundel (524648) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116001)

I own a 2003 Civic Hybrid and the new numbers presented are very close to my observed mileage after driving it for 2 years. I am a somewhat careful driver, but I'm not one of those going for extreme [kotv.com] mileage either.

I love owning a hybrid because driving this car has less impact on the environment as a whole. Less expenditures on fuel is another plus. Having to fill up less often is convenient, too.

I feel it is just as unfair to judge the hybrid technology or any fuel saving technology as not 'economically effective' when there is a very high degree of uncertainty about future fuel prices or the behaviors of other factors. If, for example, many others drive larger and larger vehicles, then the cost of gas will increase, and it will have very little to do with my choice to buy a hybrid. Another thing that could happen is that manufacturers switch to diesel. Will diesel still be economical 10 years down the road if consumption of diesel fuel increases significantly? Today spewing carbon dioxide into the air is free. What if we begin paying for carbon offset credits at the pump?

In summary, using less fuel and emitting less pollutants makes sense for our driving culture. It is a shame we can't convince ourselves it makes sense at an individual level.

There are alternatives to the EPA numbers (3, Informative)

delirium28 (641609) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116005)

There's a hybrid database that I've been scanning over the past year or so to see exactly which hybrid is "worth" the extra cost (ignoring the environmental impacts of course, since I'm a greedy capitalist pig ;-))

Hybrid Mileage Database [greenhybrid.com]

So far the EPA numbers in TFA seem to line up well for the Prius at least, but I haven't looked at any of the other numbers.

I'll take the Ford Explorer... (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116037)

I own a 1997 Ford Explorer. Love this car.

On carmax.com, right now, I can buy a two-year-old Ford Explorer, nicely equipped, for @22k. A decently-equipped Prius (sorry, no hairshirt for me) is going to run around $30k. There are no second-hand Prii for sale at Carmax.

Paying $8k more for a car with a much smaller load-carrying capacity doesn't cut it for me. I can offset current spending on gasoline against the principal and interest on $8k, and easily carry five people, all their luggage, and four bikes to the beach (e.g., Atlanta to Pensacola), and know that the technology under me is fairly well-understood and easily-maintainable.

My next car will be an Explorer as well.

Odd. (1)

Irvu (248207) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116081)

So this part:

the old, over-inflated ratings were higher in part because the cars idled a lot, allowing the hybrids to completely turn off their engines. The new ratings should be more in line with what hybrid drivers are actually seeing.

seems particularly odd.

How would, excess idle be the issue? When driving in the city the very thing that you do a lot is idle (unless you run red lights, traffic jams, etc). Indeed much of the time is really spent starting, stopping, idling, speeding up, swearing, etc. All of which reduces gas mileage. Unless they leave the cars idling for days it makes no sense to me that this would be the core issue.

Also, unless they have been arbitrarily adding 10 to all totals or weren't counting the use of battery acid for hybrids there is no reason why a change in calculations should affect hybrids alone so the title is quite misleading.

Re:Odd. (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116173)

How would, excess idle be the issue? When driving in the city the very thing that you do a lot is idle (unless you run red lights, traffic jams, etc). Indeed much of the time is really spent starting, stopping, idling, speeding up, swearing, etc. All of which reduces gas mileage. Unless they leave the cars idling for days it makes no sense to me that this would be the core issue.

Yup. I'm wondering if there was some lobbying pressure here. Hell, they should add a new 'traffic jam' category, or they should add more idling time to the 'city' driving part to reflect the realities of modern traffic. Watch the Prius stay at 50 mpg while regular cars go to 10.

Diesel! (5, Informative)

spud603 (832173) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116135)

We have a 2003 VW Jetta TDI, and we consistently get 40-45 MPG. If I drive very conscientiously I get over 50 MPG. As I understand it, the main reason that diesels aren't picking up in the US is that the EPA restricts their sale: car companies can only sell up to a certain percentage of their fleet as diesels. Demand for them cannot legally be satisfied, so they are not marketed at all.
Add to this the facts that diesel fuel requires less energy to produce, and can be made (mostly) renewably from just about anything that grows, and diesels blow hybrids out of the water in terms of fuel efficiency.
Maybe this change in rating schemes will take some of the marketability out of hybrids and raise awareness for diesel... though more likely it will just encourage people to say fuck it and buy an RV to drive their kids to soccer practice.

Cost effective is not just what you spend on gas (1)

Gilatrout (694977) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116179)

For me, one of the benefits of owning a Prius, or hybrid is not just the fact I fill up every 2.5-3weeks instead of weekly with my past car (a 4Runner) but also in the fact that the Prius and hybrids produce a lot less emissions than standard cars. Less emissions mean less pollution which mean less health issues. So any cost benefit analysis that is just about the cost of fuel leaves out a huge cost savings to society if everyone drove a hybrid. I still want my hydrogen powered rocket car.

Tenuous grasp on cause and effect (1, Interesting)

Xaroth (67516) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116207)

My favorite line from the article has to be this one:
"The new mileage estimates mean it will take longer to recoup that extra cost in money saved on gas."

...as though magically everyone's car suddenly starts eating up more gasoline just because the EPA changed their ratings system. It suggests to me that they should just revise their estimates upwards, so that everyone can save that money they'd be spending on gas. If we made it high enough, we could eliminate our dependance on foreign oil! Clearly, the EPA is in it with big oil to keep the little man down. Jerks.

The article is full of lines like this. For example, they have some random guy quoted in an email as saying that he didn't trust the Prius ratings and that a Corolla got just as good of mileage. They have a table listing various MPG ratings from the EPA, so one might think that including the Corolla to corroborate this random guy's story would be a good idea. Not this author, though. I mean, that aside from picking some random guy from the internet to use as a key quote to support the idea that the EPA guidelines aren't precisely commensurate with people's actual results.

All that said, I suppose I'm just expecting too much from Wired. ;)

Cost Effectiveness (1)

Thabenksta (125165) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116293)

While I was disappointed that my Prius averaged about 50 mpg, as opposed to the advertised 60, I didn't not feel ripped off for a couple reasons. First, 50 mpg is still damn good, but more importantly it's just a nice car.

I really don't understand when people say that "It takes 10 years to pay off the difference". Difference from what? Are these people comparing the Prius to a Ford Escort?

I paid more for the Prius than I did for the Matrix before it, but it's a lot nicer car. It handles better, it's got a super cool touch screen with all kinds of goodies like bluetooth hands-free, and a backup camera. It's got a better sound system, and IMO just looks like a nicer car. I've got the smart-key with the push button starter, and security system.

That's not even counting the tax deductions.

Plus, it's not just about MPG, the emissions are obviously much lower.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not sniffing my own farts here. I'm just saying that as a Prius owner, the cost was worth it, hybrid or not.

Why doesn't every car have a mileage display? (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 6 years ago | (#19116305)

I've always wondered why every car doesn't have a mileage display. If you're unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, some cars have a display on the dashboard showing the current (real-time) mileage, trip mileage and lifetime mileage. I first saw this at least fifteen years ago. And now when I rent a car, it usually has this display. And I rent the cheapest car they carry.

Are these sensors worthless? I can see how the current mileage might be a bit suspect, but the trip mileage and lifetime mileage should be good. They can't be expensive, considering I always find them in the cheapest cars. This is one area where I've thought a government mandate would be a good thing. If it's a $5 sensor, they should require them to be put in all new cars. Then you'd actually have a lot better idea of what mileage you are getting in real world conditions (without having to keep a log every time you fill up). Maybe one of these days I'll actually get around to contacting my Congressmen and see if they'll give the suggestion a chance. Maybe I'd have the best luck finding a rep whose district makes the sensors...
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