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With the entire world going nuts over the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal, the EPA recently announced that it’ll be implementing immediately new tactics to prevent such trickery from ever occurring again.

In the past, the EPA would place a vehicle on a dyno, and drive it through a pre-determined testing cycle to determine both fuel economy and emissions. One city driving cycle designed for European cities looks like such:

  • Accelerate to 9mph in four seconds
  • Cruise at 9mph for eight seconds
  • Brake to rest in five seconds
  • Accelerate to 20mph over 12 seconds
  • Cruise at 20mph for 24 seconds
  • Brake to rest in 11 seconds
  • Accelerate to 31mph over 26 seconds
  • Cruise at 31mph for 12 seconds
  • Brake to 22mph over eight seconds
  • Cruise at 22mph for 13 seconds
  • Brake to rest in 12 seconds

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I like to call this the “James May” cycle judging by its leisurely pace. The ridiculous nature of this test provides some explanation as to why fuel economy ratings are often so far from those experienced in real life. This however is about to change. The EPA sent a letter to car manufactures stating that it while these dyno tests will still be conducted, they may now “test or require testing on any vehicle at a designated location using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device.””
In other words, car companies can no longer only rely on the ‘dyno test’. If they’re using a defeat device, they’ll be caught during the real-world driving phase. In addition, rather than simply relying on vehicles borrowed from manufactures, they may also rent or borrow regular production models for testing. To quote the EPA director Christopher Grundler directly: “We’re upping our game.” Car manufactures beware!

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