WASHINGTON -- After cracking down on Hyundai, Kia and Ford, the EPA is preparing to shine a more public spotlight on automakers' fuel economy claims.
This fall, the agency plans to release the results of industrywide audits that included tests on more than 20 car and light-truck models this year, said Christopher Grundler, head of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, in an interview last week.
The audits, done at tracks in Arizona and Michigan, were meant to double-check automakers' readings on the "coast-down" test -- the test that turned up problems with the mpg numbers on many of Hyundai's and Kia's window stickers last year, and has led the companies to spend millions of dollars compensating vehicle owners.
Grundler, who was recently briefed on the results, said he can't comment on what the EPA found until he talks to his bosses and briefs executives from the car companies. But he said the upcoming report "will be very interesting to some people."
The coast-down test, in which a vehicle is sped up to about 80 mph and then allowed to glide to a stop, measures the aerodynamics of a vehicle, the rolling resistance of its tires and the amount of friction in its drivetrain. The readings are used to program a dynamometer, like a treadmill for vehicles, which is used to run the vehicle through the EPA's test cycles and come up with mpg estimates.