Though gas-fueled vehicles still dominate the roads, electric cars have certainly grown in popularity. Drivers love electric vehicles for their easy maintenance, smooth ride, and eco-friendliness. But EVs aren’t just given the seal of approval as soon as they’re made. They have to meet a set of standards first. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tests the car’s electric vehicle range, it follows a different set of standards than when it tests gas-fueled cars. But the EPA still makes sure that it meets federal emission and fuel economy standards.
The EPA Test for EVs
When the EPA tests EVs, it simulates different driving scenarios using a dyno. You can compare a dyno to a treadmill for cars; the wheels of the car rotate, but the car is locked into place. This way, testers can speed up the car to the required speeds without fear of the car going anywhere. The dyno measures fuel economy, horsepower, the performance of the car, and other factors.
UDDS and HWFET
The Highway Fuel Economy Driving Schedule (HWFET) and the Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS) are the most important cycles that the electric vehicle is put through. The cycles are a simulation of trips around town or time spent on the highway before you need to plug in your EV.
The UDDS cycle simulates city driving and is used to measure city fuel economy. Testers accelerate the test vehicle and then decelerate to zero. The HWFET simulation tests for highway fuel economy at a sustained speed. Testers bring the car up to speed and have it fluctuate between 30–60 mph throughout the test. The wheels only come to a stop at the end, unlike the UDDS cycle, which is a stop-and-go simulation.
The EPA measures the fuel economy of cars under controlled conditions in a laboratory as per federal law. Testers measure the fuel economy in miles per gallon gasoline-equivalent (mpg-e) for plug-in electric cars. Usually, pre-production prototypes of vehicles are tested independently by the manufacturers. They then report the results to the EPA. After reviewing the results, the EPA conducts tests at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory.
Electric Car Range Factors
There are variables that, when they are introduced into the equation, affect the range of EVs. When a car is tested, only a professional driver occupies it. There are no passengers, and nothing is in the trunk. The car will be at room temperature, and the heater and air conditioning will most likely be turned off.
Under everyday circumstances, the car’s weight will probably be heavier, and the vehicle will need more energy to meet a certain speed. There may be high or low temperatures that will affect the battery charge.
The habit of motorists also affects energy consumption. Those who drive at a smooth and steady pace will get optimal battery use, whereas those who accelerate or drive at high speeds will drain the battery quicker.
Testing of EVs Through The Years
Electric vehicle testing has changed over the years. Vehicle models made in the year 2007 and before were only taken through the city and highway simulation. Models made in 2008 and later now undergo three additional tests, including air conditioning use, higher speeds, and colder temperatures.
Electric Vehicle Sticker
EVs usually have a ‘fuel economy’ sticker displayed on the window. It usually indicates the average mileage the vehicle can cover on a single, full charge. It also lists the expected battery recharge duration when using a 240-volt (Level 2) charger. The MPGe estimates for highway, city, and combined city/highway driving is also displayed. An additional piece of information included on the sticker is a rating (from 1-10) of the car’s greenhouse gas emissions and smog-related tailpipe emissions. EVs automatically have a rating of 10 since they produce no emissions.
EPA testing not only holds manufacturers accountable for safe manufacturing standards, but it also gives consumers some insight into the efficiency of the car itself. So when you go shopping for an electric vehicle, you can quickly compare your wants and needs to the EPA testing results. It’s also smart for you to keep up on what the EPA is currently testing for since it is known to change — knowledge is power!