In the United States, government devotes great energy to helping the overclass conceal the multiple disasters inherent in cars-first transportation. The agency that tracks the tens of thousands of yearly deaths in car crashes and invariably reports them as good news? That’s the National Highway Traffic Safety (not Danger) Administration.

Hence, how surprised are we here at DbC by this report about the fraudulence of federal CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) mpg ratings?:

Under a 62 mpg CAFE rule, real-world fuel economy would be just under 50 mpg.

And if CAFE were 47 mpg, the real-world number would be about 38 mpg.

To know why, you have to understand what the CAFE number is — a sales-weighted average of the mpg ratings for vehicles produced in a given year. Vehicle mpg ratings are based on lab tests using a dynamometer, a sort of treadmill for cars.

Dynamometer testing produces an artificial number, but it does provide controlled conditions. No wind, no rain. And it allows for precise test protocols. For instance, the federal city-driving test cycle lasts 1,874 seconds, with an average speed of 21.1 mph, and has cold- and hot-start segments of 505 seconds each.

That’s where CAFE mpg numbers come from. But — here’s the curveball — those numbers don’t appear on window stickers.

In an effort to get closer to real-world fuel economy, CAFE numbers are reduced by 20 to 25 percent, depending on the type of vehicle. So a car that scores 35 mpg on the laboratory test will have a window-sticker rating of 28 mpg. [Source: Automotive News, May 9, 2011]

The obvious purpose of the continued use of a test known to be unrealistic? To make the “debate” on transportation among politicians sound more serious than it is, and to thereby shift attention farther away from the real issues, which continue to be utterly unmentionable in public fora.

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