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Honda Civic Hybrid
Civic Hybrid owner upset over averaging 32MPG

This past December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would revise its fuel economy ratings to reflect current real-world conditions. EPA ratings at the time didn't take into account stop-and-go traffic, cold weather environments or posted speeds of 65MPH or 70MPH currently found today's highways (EPA testing maxed out at 55MPH).

In February, the EPA rolled out its revised testing procedures for 2008 model year vehicles and included a tool on its website that would take old EPA estimates and convert them to the new testing methodology. Not surprisingly, hybrids were some of the big losers with the 2008 EPA estimates.

Popular hybrid models including the Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry Hybrid and Honda Civic Hybrid drop from 60/51 (city/highway), 40/38 and 49/51 to 48/45, 33/34 and 40/45 respectively.

John True, an Ontario, California native, wasn’t amused with the latest MPG mash-ups. True purchased his Civic Hybrid last year when the stated EPA mileage ratings were 49/51. True averaged 32MPG in his Civic Hybrid over the course of 6,000 miles -- even lower than the revised 2008 EPA ratings of 40/55. Consumer Reports also tested a Civic Hybrid in 2005 and averaged just 26MPG in the city.

The poor fuel economy led True to file a class-action lawsuit against American Honda Motor Company. True claims that Honda has misled buyers with false advertising.

"This case does seek relief for tens of thousands of consumers like Mr. True, who purchased the HCH expecting to benefit from its 'remarkable' fuel efficiency, and paid thousands of dollars extra for an HCH that looks identical and performs basically the same as the non-hybrid Honda Civic," said a June 4 court filing.

Even though the suit goes after Honda, the actual party responsible for MPG ratings is the EPA. "I can tell you that the 49/51 figures are EPA numbers, not Honda numbers," said Sage Marie, a Honda spokesman. "Some customers achieve the EPA mpg figures and some don't, as fuel economy performance is a function of conditions, traffic, driving style, load, etc."

Manufacturers have no control over what rating the EPA will give a particular vehicle once it has completed for regular production. It just so happens that hybrid manufacturers like Honda and Toyota have been able to use the inflated EPA scores to entice buyers over the years.

Honda already acknowledged that its Accord Hybrid wasn't up to snuff. Honda promised performance greater than a V6 Accord with fuel economy comparable to a 4-cylinder Accord. Edmunds, however, showed that its Accord Hybrid only managed 23.8MPG after two years and 30,000 miles of driving.

Honda is dropping the hybrid model from the 2008 Accord redesign and instead will go with a 2.2 liter i-CTDi clean diesel.





"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki







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