With a belated nod to reality, the Environmental Protection Agency is revamping the way it calculates auto fuel economy to better reflect vehicle performance with lead-footed, comfort-loving American drivers behind the wheel.
The new ratings, which will debut on 2008 vehicles, will drop a given model’s estimated city mileage by 12 percent from the old method. Highway mileage estimates will likewise creep 8 percent downward.
The old test assumed a driver would never exceed 60 mph or use the air conditioner. Ha.
The auto lobby, which has resisted calls for mandated improvements in fuel economy, much preferred the previous, fictional estimates.
It made sure that the reality-based numbers would not be used to calculate the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard, which manufacturers must meet to avoid paying penalties.
Sarcasm aside, the effort to more accurately reflect real-world fuel economy is a welcome development for a nation sluggishly shaking off decades of denial about the real-world cost of its energy policies.
Vehicles are one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, the buildup of which most scientists believe could unhinge our largely hospitable climate. More efficient cars mean less CO2 emitted per mile driven.
Should that be unpersuasive, even climate-change skeptics will have trouble denying the national security costs of our foreign oil addiction.
The new window sticker will provide a range of mileage estimates for competing vehicles and the projected annual fuel cost for the vehicle, based on an estimated 15,000 miles of driving.
An educated consumer is more likely to be an enlightened consumer.