When it comes to mpg, eventually you’ll have to answer to the buyer

There has been a lot of muttering lately about the mpg ratings that some companies put on their cars, as my colleague Rick Kranz noted this week.

Here’s a footnote to Rick’s column. Over lunch recently with a former product executive for a major automaker, I asked if he thought anyone was fudging their numbers.

He said that he doubted that a company would out-and-out cheat. But then he smiled and said that, well, there are ways to game the system.

For instance, he said, his former employer used to test 50 vehicles of a given model, knowing that a normal bell-shape distribution of results would probably produce one outlier with higher mpg. Results from that car would be reported.

But -- here’s the kicker -- the automaker decided to stop playing games. Not because other automakers complained. Not because the feds were applying pressure.

No, the automaker discovered that it was angering its customers, who complained that their mpg didn’t match the sticker.

That’s something to consider if you’re tempted to inflate an mpg number.

25

Shares

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Over the last few months, Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Newsletters