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Detroit News – July 15, 2007
As I have said before, the USA is a litigious society. We tend to sue way too often. However, some suits are absolutely needed to prevent abuse of the consumer. I don’t know if this particular case is warranted but it at least deserves some attention.
The technique for determining the average miles per gallon (MPG) appears to be adequate for pure internal combustion engines but it may not be adequate for hybrid vehicles (see the Consumer Products test below). Unfortunately, this metric is even more for critical for hybrids so that consumers can correctly analyze if they can at least come close to break even over a traditional IC engine design.
There is also some analysis (that is a little hard to believe) that when you take into account battery disposal and extra manufacturing costs, hybrid cars actually use more power over their “dust to dust” lifetime. This is similar to what I pointed out regarding compact fluorescent lamps.
But after 6,000 miles of driving, True said he averaged just 32 miles per gallon in mixed city/highway driving. So in March, True, an Ontario, Calif., professional jazz piano player, filed a class-action lawsuit in U S District Court in Riverside, Calif., in what appears to be the first legal challenge of the mileage claims of hybrid vehicles.
The lawsuit claims American Honda Motor Co. has misled consumers in its advertisements and on its website. The suit notes that while the Environmental Protection Agency and automobile window stickers say “mileage will vary,” some Honda’s advertisements read “mileage may vary.” That implies that it’s possible to get the mileage advertised, said William H. Anderson, a Washington, D.C., attorney for True.
Andrew Frank, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of California at Davis, and father of the plug-in hybrid, said drivers don’t realize that aggressive driving dramatically reduces fuel economy, especially in hybrids.
Consumer Reports found in October 2005 that the Honda Civic hybrid averaged just 26 miles per gallon in city driving — 46 percent below the EPA estimate. Other hybrids also averaged below estimates.
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