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Car manufacturers have been accused of misleading customers as the latest consumer report by Which? found that only 3 cars reached their official miles-per-gallon figure.
The report concludes that consumers could be spending an average of £133 more on fuel per year than they thought as manufacturers continue to mislead consumers.
The report produced results from 200 models which were tested by Which? during 2013 and 2014, with cars falling short by an average 13 per cent – an increase of 5% in recent years
The three cars to actually reach their official figure during testing were the 1.2-litre, manual Skoda Roomster, the 2-litre Mazda 3 Fastback and the 2-litre, automatic diesel Skoda Yeti. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV hybrid was the worst performing car achieving just 67mpg despite official figures of 148mpg.
So, why is this happening?
The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), a series of tests currently used to calculate mpg figures, has not been updated since 1997. At present, Which? and other consumer organisations believe it doesn’t represent real-world driving and the recent advances in motoring such as the incorporation of stop-start technology and hybrids.
What are the flaws in the current test?
The test is carried out under laboratory conditions that are not true of day to day life, furthermore, key equipment on vehicles such as air-conditioning, lights and heated windows are all turned off to increase efficiency. Furthermore, the current test exists primarily to measure cars’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a bid to bring the average CO2 output down to 130g/km or less by 2015.
What can be done under test standards to improve mpg figures?
The European Commission is currently working on a new testing procedure scheduled to be introduced in 2 years’ time. The new test is designed to be very similar to the one carried out by Which?, it uses a rolling road which allows the test to be completed in exactly the same way every time. In addition, the new test cycle includes more comprehensive testing at higher speeds when cars burn more fuel, with the headlights, air conditioning and radio all turned on.
What can we do to improve our existing mpg?
There are lots of things you can do yourself to improve the mpg on your existing car despite the disappointing figures, for example, make sure that if your car has an engine stop/start system to save fuel in traffic, you don’t switch it off. Have your car serviced on schedule and keep your tyres at the recommend pressure. Avoid using air-conditioning unless necessary and make sure your car is not weighed down with excess baggage. Most importantly, always look ahead to prevent unnecessary accelerating and braking.