The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that it has revised its procedures for assessing the fuel economy of vehicles with new standards that take into account updated technology, air conditioning use, faster driving, and increased traffic idling time. The agency’s testing standards—first introduced following the oil shocks of the 1970s—have not undergone any significant changes since 1985.
“Everyone agrees that the test procedures and our calculations are outdated. We’ve got 20 years of new technology, 20 years of experience, 20 years of new driving conditions,” EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson told reporters. “A lot has changed—things such as speed limits, a lot more cars with air conditioning and other equipment,” he added.
The current test assumes drivers won’t top 60 miles an hour, even on the highway, and that they can only gain 3.3 miles per hour per second. But today some highways have speed limits as high as 75 miles per hour, while contemporary cars can accelerate by as much as 8.4 miles per hour each second.
By law, fuel economy information must be provided on the window stickers of all new cars and trucks for sale in the United States. According to Johnson, the new testing procedures will be formally proposed by the end of December and then should be phased in over the next two years.