E conned?

Last September, in the interest of economy and the environment, I traded in a Mercedes for a new Toyota Prius Hybrid. The chief attraction of the Prius lay in its claim that the fuel efficiency was an overall 65.69 mpg. This was the figure given on the web site, in the brochure and in press advertising. Having now driven over 7,000 miles, I find that the best the car will do on the combined cycle, when driven normally on country roads, is about 47 mpg. Driving at 70 mph in a straight run on a motorway, it will reach 52 mpg. When tested by the original dealer, it returned 51 mpg but even so, their report states, "Fuel consumption as expected for this model". Obviously this is nowhere near the mpg claimed in the publicity, but we are now told that the figure of 65.69 mpg was produced "under test conditions" - presumably downhill with a following wind. This disclaimer is not made anywhere in the advertising copy, which simply says, "The petrol engine of the Toyota Prius actually outstrips conventional petrol or diesel engines, while delivering far greater fuel efficiency (65.7 mpg on the combined cycle)". The advertised figure appears to be grossly misleading. What action would you advise?

Asked on 14 March 2009 by

Answered by Honest John
It's the major fault with the compulsory EC Fuel and Emissions
Certification system. By EC law, manufacturers cannot publicise any other figures than those achieved in the certification tests. Obviously manufacturers optimise their cars to achieve the best possible results in the tests. There is no compulsion on them to ensure the cars will match these figures in real life. However, a German Motorist has just won a case in a German Regional Court against Mercedes for this and Brits have been winning compensation in the small claims track of the county courts. The EC knows it needs to make its economy and emissions certification more realistic and is working on this. But, of course, that’s going to put CO2 based car taxes up.
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