Imagine this. In your hallway sits a huge box containing a new TV. You’re excited; it’s the 50-inch model you’ve had your eye on for ages. But when you open the box, it’s no bigger than your old 32-inch set.
You check the label. It’s the right model. You look at the manufacturer’s website: ‘50-inch screen’ it says. So you call the retailer – there must be a mix-up.
No, they say. The TV is officially a 50-inch model, it’s just that the industry measures inches differently to normal people. You’d be outraged, wouldn’t you?
Readers feel let down on fuel economy
But this ridiculous situation isn’t so different to what’s happening all over Europe when people buy a new car.
They read the official miles-per-gallon (mpg) figures stated in ads and plastered over manufacturers’ websites, then find the car delivers a fraction of the miles expected per tank.
The reason? An outdated official, European Union-approved mpg test – in effect, the ruler has its inches marked all wrong.
We’ve touched on this subject a couple of times this year – first in April then again in May – and those articles prompted almost 200 comments, many from readers who’ve been disappointed with their car’s fuel economy.
Then, last week, we were contacted by Ron Nicholls who bought a new Nissan Qashqai in December 2014.
Like having to put an extra £20’s worth in the tank each time
Ron’s car, the 1.2-litre petrol version, achieved an impressive 42.8mpg in the ‘urban cycle’ of the official test, yet Ron averages just 28.8mpg driving around town.
That’s a third less than he expected. As he put it, that’s like having to put an extra £20 of fuel in the tank each time he fills up. The Qashqai also failed to live up to its mpg claims in our test.
Ron feels he was misled by the official mpg figures, but despite trying to engage with Nissan he has, in his words, ‘been given the brush-off’.
Manufacturers are required by law to publish mpg figures generated by the EC’s flawed, out-of-date official mpg test. But to conform with Advertising Standards Authority guidelines, they’re also supposed to make it clear that ‘MPG figures are obtained from laboratory testing and intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not reflect real driving results’.
We checked Nissan’s website and found it’s almost impossible to find such a caveat. In the downloadable brochure it simply states figures are ‘in accordance with 1999/100/EC’ and ‘Technical data subject to final homologation results’. Do you think that’s clear enough?
What do you think? Are manufacturers misleading us when it comes to fuel economy? Should they do more to make it clear how many mpg we’re really likely to get?