Making sense of the DOE Fuel Economy Run

THE CAR GUY - Ulysses Ang - The Philippine Star

Recently, the Department of Energy (DOE) together with the country’s biggest oil company, Petron, held the first Euro 4 fuel economy run. Used as dry run to come up with a standardized measure of fuel economy, under the Philippine Energy Standards and Labeling Program or PESLP (the same group that determines the efficiency of your electric fan or refrigerator), 70 cars from 22 brands participated.

Going from Petron Clark station in Angeles City, Pampanga, the convoy snaked through SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway), TPLEX (Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway) and back in the middle of the night.

The methodology was not too scientific but was real-world relatable. It required each car to be filled up to the brim, driven through the course, and fueled again. The results were determined by dividing the kilometers traveled by the fuel consumed (the full tank method). And to eliminate unfamiliarity with the cars, each manufacturer brought their own driver and co-driver tandem, who along with a media observer, drove through the 280-kilometer course with a maximum speed of 80 km/h with their air conditioner at full blast. And while enjoying the frigid recycled air in the cabin, the observer had to make sure that the car was following a three-second gap to the car ahead and that no overtaking took place.

After collating all the results from the run, the DOE and Petron presented their official findings. Given the nature of the course and the time of the run, it was unsurprising that 71 percent or 27 of 38 vehicles powered by Petron XCS (95-octane gasoline) achieved a figure above 20 km/L. Meanwhile, 66 percent or 21 of 32 participants using Petron Turbo Diesel achieved the same figure. The most fuel-efficient gasoline-fed car remained the Suzuki Celerio CVT that registered 29.14 km/L. On the other hand, the Isuzu D-Max 3.0 LS M/T barely sipped diesel, doing 38.46 km/L.

Here are other interesting tidbits gathered from the results:

The average fuel economy of all participants was 22.32 km/L. The average fuel economy of all diesel participants was 22.13 km/L while for gasoline, it was surprisingly higher at 22.48 km/L.

It’s clear that for variants that ran both automatic and manual transmission, it was the former that fared better. For instance the Mitsubishi Mirage (27.05 km/L vs. 25.64 km/L) and the Suzuki Celerio (29.14 km/L vs. 27.70 km/L).

Not counting brands that ran with just one entry or multiple variants of the same car with the same drivetrain, Isuzu Philippines had the highest corporate fuel economy average at 27.6 km/L. The best among a full gasoline line-up? Suzuki at 25.3 km/L.

The Honda Jazz 1.5 CVT with its 28.60 km/L fared better than any other hatchback even compared to the diesel-fed Hyundai Accent’s 25.64 km/L. It’s even better than its sedan twin, the City 1.5 and even the much-vaunted Mazda2 Skyactiv.

Comparing the two 1.5-liter compact turbos, the Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost did an abysmal 19.20 km/L (the lowest for a hatchback) while the Honda Civic RS did 27.56 km/L—beating even the Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost (23.59 km/L).

The Isuzu D-Max’s win in the pickup category was substantial. The next best entry was the Toyota Hilux 2.4 running at 21.59 km/L and the Nissan NP300 Navara at 17.85 km/L. And on that subject, the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Strada, and Chevrolet Colorado didn’t participate.

Among the Pickup-based Passenger Vehicles or PPVs, the Isuzu mu-X 3.0 won the war with a 23.53 km/L figure. Among the automatic transmission variants that ran, the Toyota Fortuner 2.4 was the best at 18.91 km/L. This figure beat the Mitsubishi Montero Sport running in both manual (18.48 km/L) and automatic (17.79 km/L) transmission. Both versions of the Foton Toplander did 16.07 km/L for the manual and 14.81 km/L for the automatic. These figures are even lower than the Subaru Forester XT’s 16.71 km/L run. Again, the Chevrolet Traiblazer and Ford Everest did not run.

Pegging diesel at P30 per liter and gasoline at P40 per liter, the Isuzu D-Max is the cheapest to run every 1,000 kilometers with a cost of just P780. The remaining Top 9 were all diesels: Hyundai Accent (P1,020.00), Peugeot 301 TDI (P1,022.14), Audi A3 2.0 TDI (P1,054.29), Volkswagen Jetta TDI (P1,068.21), Hyundai Accent HB (P1,170.00), Toyota Innova 2.8 (P1,188.21), Hyundai Tucson CRDi (P1,209.64), Tata Manza Aura (P1,261.07), and Isuzu mu-X 3.0 LS-A 4x2 (P1,275.00). The cheapest gasoline to run to 1,000 kilometers? The Suzuki Celerio CVT (P1,372.86) followed by the Honda Jazz 1.5 (P1,398.57), Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 M/T (P1,431.43), Hyundai Elantra (P1,437.14), and Suzuki Celerio M/T (P1,444.29).

The most expensive to run to 1,000 kilometers? For the gasoline-fed entries, it was the BAIC MZ40 (P2,751.43) and for the diesel, it’s Foton Toplander 4x4 (P2,026.07).

The DOE Euro 4 Fuel Economy Run, the first in the country, forms part of DOE’s efforts to promote judicious utilization of energy. In addition, the DOE also wishes to promote the use of Euro 4 fuels, which it mandated in January this year. Euro 4 fuels are more environment-friendly, as they contain significantly lesser amount of sulfur and benzene. 

Both the Department of Energy and Petron understand that the data presented here still do not capture real-world driving conditions. It is for this reason that they’ll be conducting more fuel economy runs in the future. With the help of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers (CAMPI) and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID), they’ll drum up more scientific measures which will help standardize fuel efficiency labeling for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in the future. Petron has pledged its full support to future runs.

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