The £192 Million Fuel Economy Rip-Off

What Car? has today exposed the huge inaccuracies in fuel economy figures used by car makers in their advertising. On average, cars in the real world are 8% thirstier than manufacturers' official figures.

Most owners expect to achieve the economy claimed in adverts and brochures, but are disappointed when their fuel bills are higher. What Car?’s research proves that Britain’s new-car buyers spent £192 million last year in inflated fuel bills as a result.

What Car? used an independent specialist to assess the fuel economy of 85 best-selling cars in real-world driving. Only five cars managed to hit their makers' claims. Worst performer was the hybrid petrol-electric Toyota Prius - famed for its green credentials. What Car? could only manage an average of 52mpg, 13.7mpg below Toyota's official claim.

Eight of the top 10 worst performers against official figures were superminis - the very cars that are bought by budget-conscious motorists with an eye on fuel economy.

What Car?’s tests calculated what owners can expect in the real world, by using an electronic meter inserted in cars’ fuel systems to measure accurately the fuel used over identical routes and conditions.

What Car?'s independent research was backed up by tests from 120 readers. They recorded their consumption for a week and, on average, managed 3mpg below manufacturers' figures. What Car?'s own fleet of test cars recorded an average of 6mpg less than car makers' claims over a massive 1,143,197 miles.

Steve Fowler, What Car?'s editor, said: 'With fuel prices already topping £1 per litre in many places, fuel economy is an increasing concern for car buyers. But on average, they're having to pay £87 a year more than they'd expect based on car makers' claims - and that figure will only rise as fuel prices increase further.

'However, the fault lies not with the manufacturers, but the unrealistic method of testing cars' economy enforced by the EU. Tests are carried out in laboratories, not on roads, with only gentle acceleration and at high temperatures - very different to real-world driving conditions.'

What Car? believes that the European Union should adopt a more realistic system suited to the way motorists actually drive to provide drivers with accurate and useful data.

6 August 2006 Staff

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