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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

EPA wants it both ways.

The EPA fields customer complaints. That's fine. The EPA also promulgates rules on consumer goods, such as gas mileage ratings. Yet when the complaint received, bad gas mileage, is a reflection of the tests that the EPA mandates, then I have a problem when the EPA wants to scold the auto manufacturer for promoting the EPA gas mileage results!

Drivers of new hybrid vehicles are upset that they aren't getting the posted EPA gas mileage ratings. Hello, no car ever gets those ratings because the EPA tests are unrealistic of a real world environment!

"The Environmental Protection Agency has talked with hybrid makers "about our concerns over the complaints," says Chris Grundler, deputy director of EPA's transportation and air quality office."

However "Most of our cars get 10% to 15% less than the EPA (rating) in the real world," says Toyota spokesman Mike Michels. "A 10% to 15% variance looks a lot bigger on a 55-mpg (hybrid) car than on (a gas-power) one that gets 15 or 20."

Part of the problem is not only the unrealistic testing parameters, such as not running the air conditioner, never going above 55 m.p.h, and other things that would occur in normal use, but it is the hybrid technology itself doesn't mesh well with the testing procedures.

Under my regime I'm telling to EPA to promulgate rules reflective of the real world and common sense versus the numbnuttedness they currently do in all sorts of things. Admin Law gave me insight into the mind of the agency and it scared the hell out of me.

Sadly I need to blame consumers a little bit on this as well. We have this expectation that new technology will be a silver bullet to all sorts of problems, but we don't research the tech to figure out what it can and can't realistically do. I'm not saying the average consumer needs to do a Ph.D. paper on hybrids, but they can certainly ask around and peek on the internet! Just a little bit of effort please.

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