Indeed, fuel economy has become paramount in buying a new car especially in the Philippines. With many automotive manufacturers advertising impressive fuel economy figures, one question exists: “Are these figures as strong in real-life as they are on paper?”
To settle this, the Car Awards Group Inc. (CAGI) came up with their own method to test fuel economy called the Fuel Economy Benchmark (FEB).
There are several ways to determine a vehicle’s fuel economy, and the most globally-accepted ways include those conducted by the EPA, and methods like the NEDC and the Japanese 10/15 Cycle. But these vaguely reflect the Philippine setting, including locally-available models, varied local road and weather conditions, and driving behaviors.
That’s why here in the Philippines, fuel economy runs are the common methods of testing. However, critics argue that long distance drives don’t represent the daily driving habits of Filipino motorists. Driving on public roads also does not produce the same result twice due to factors such as weather, temperature, and traffic volume.
CAGI also claims that the commonly used “brim-to-brim” full-tank method also has its flaws. Here, test vehicles are filled to the brim before and after the run to determine the amount of fuel consumed. This method cannot take into account variables such as air pockets in the fuel tank, fuel expansion due to temperature change, and fuel evaporation.
Fuel Economy Benchmark (FEB)
To get around these issues, CAGI conducted their own test on a closed course at the Clark International Speedway (CIS). There they simulated urban traffic conditions with target speeds, specified acceleration rates, and braking zones to produce consistent and replicable results. Real world situations such as traffic stops, high speed stretches, and low speed crawls were also part of the test. And instead of measuring by fuel volume, this method uses vehicle weight to determine how much fuel was used before and after the test, thus eliminating factors that would otherwise alter the data.
All 19 vehicles from 8 manufacturers that participated in the test were then driven by a group of professional drivers, headed by Formula 3 champion Pepon Marave.
Proving the validity of the results, CAGI cited that the test produced numbers that were close to city driving fuel economy figures advertised for each car. Aside from fuel efficiency ratings, this test can also test products such as fuel-saving devices, tires, lubricants, and more.
CAGI Fuel Economy Benchmark (FEB) Test Results
While the results of this method can still be affected by several external factors, it minimizes the number of variables that would otherwise affect the results. And in the pursuit of accuracy between what is advertised and what is real, this is as close as we can get… for now.