Specific Purpose: My purpose is to persuade you that the current method of EPA emissions testing is faulty and that it needs improvement to help improve the automotive industry and its attempts to make more efficient vehicles.
Central Idea: The EPA tests miles per gallon and emissions for vehicles in a laboratory setting, rather than a real, on-road test. This has led to inaccuracies and legal issues pertaining to miles per gallon and emissions from vehicles.
I. (Attention Getter) Does your car get the fuel economy that it is advertised for? I know mine doesn’t, and many cars don’t. Pollution is becoming a major problem, and cars play a large role in pollution figures, considering that, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, as of 2014 there were over 260 Million registered vehicles on U.S roads alone.
II. (Audience Adaptation) Every one of us is affected by pollution, and we need to do what we can to prevent it.
III. (Purpose) I aim to persuade you that the current EPA methods of emissions testing is unrealistic, misleading, and inaccurate, and that it needs to change if we want to be more honest with our pollution levels.
A. First, I will explain to you the basics of vehicle emissions regulations.
B. Then, I will discuss why the testing methods that are used are flawed and misleading.
C. Lastly, I will explain the negative impacts of these flaws.
TRANSITION: Now, I’ll get into some details on how vehicles are tested and rated.
I. We will look at two main categories; fuel consumption, or “miles per gallon”, and emissions, the chemicals coming out of your exhaust pipe. These two main factors are enforced by multiple laws and agencies, making things more confusing than necessary.
A. The first regulation is the CAFE law, which stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy. It was passed in 1975, and dictates the minimum allowed fuel economy by averages in each type of car. If a car falls behind the industry average, the company pays for it. James Amend noted the scale of such payments in his article Penalty System Remains Same with New CAFE Law from Ward’s Auto World in 2008 when he said “Since 1983 … manufacturers have paid more than $735 million in CAFE penalties”. This system of targets and penalties is what defines the CAFE law.
B. As stated by Jeff Sabatini in his article “Gas Cards” written in 2017 for Car and Driver Magazine, “Not to be confused with the similar CAFÉ program, the EPA’s green-house-gas emissions standards are based on the actual vehicles each company sells.” These figures are those most commonly seen by us, the consumers.
TRANSITION: Enforcing fuel efficiency standards is a good thing for our environment for obvious reasons. However, the way that efficiency is tested by these regulatory systems is flawed.
II. The main flaw in the testing for emissions is that they are tested in a laboratory, rather than being tested in the real world.
A. As you can see here, cars are tested on a dynamometer, or “rolling road”. I don’t know about you, but my daily commute doesn’t usually look like that.
B. Even the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association recognizes its system is outdated, stating in an article on their website from April of 2016, “The industry recognizes and has stated consistently that the current test cycle is outdated.”
C. Because of tests like these, you often never see the efficiency that is advertised when you buy a car.
D. Not only that, but the EPA and CAFE laws have two different tests to measure the same thing, so you and I, the consumers, get a very lower number than the car companies do. As John O’Dell stated in his article from Edmunds.com titled “Here’s Why Real-World MPG Doesn’t Match EPA Ratings” written in 2012, “The problem is that the federal government uses two different procedures to compute the fuel-efficiency numbers it provides to consumers”. This has created unnecessary complications in this field and has continued to be an issue for obvious reasons.
INTERNAL SUMMARY: So far, we have gone through the different regulations for emissions and some of the flaws in the testing for these emissions. Now, I will get on to some of the negative effects cause by the flaws in the current system.
A. One of the main issues is that raising CAFE standards can have a reverse effect. As stated by Csaba Csere in his article from The Steering Column in Car and Driver magazine from June 2007, “Because CAFE increases keep gasoline costs low, buyers have no reason to invest in energy-saving technologies, … that would actually improve efficiency.” In this way, buyers will want to buy the cheaper gasoline car over the more expensive electric or hybrid car.
B. Because of the highly predictable laboratory tests, car companies can tailor their cars to do well in the tests but fail in the real world, as we saw with the Volkswagen scandal.
C. In addition, the tests and legislation are so out of date that it is slowing down the progress of new technologies that can have the biggest positive impact on our environment, like hydrogen or electric cars, which need to be better incorporated into the system. This progress has even been intentionally hindered, as Harry Stoffer noted in his article in Automotive News written in 2007, “Industry leaders say they know the kinds of design and engineering changes that would make vehicles more fuel efficient. But they don’t know whether customers will want such vehicles or be willing to pay more for them.” It is our job to show them we want such vehicles with these efficiency-boosting technologies.
I. (Review) So to summarize what we have gone over today,
A. We have learned about the multiple regulations that are responsible for our current emissions standards.
B. We covered why these regulations are dated and faulty
C. We saw how these dated systems are negatively impacting us and our environment.
II. (Motivation) So, what can we do about it?
A. You can contact the EPA at EPA.gov with your thoughts and concerns.
B. You can contact your state legislators and remind them of the issue.
C. We can support electric car companies and invest in products and technologies that better our environment, and be conscious of our future.
III. (Closing Statement) While we might gripe about not getting the fuel efficiency we were told we would because of our lack of gas money as college students, the problem is much bigger than that. Our current system is flawed and outdated, and has led to disappointing numbers and even cheating on behalf of some car companies. In order to prevent more issues and to help better our future, I encourage you to be mindful of these issues and do what you can to prevent them.
...(download the rest of the essay above)