DOES YOUR CAR match its official economy figures in day-to-day driving? Probably not. Judging by the emails and letters I’ve had from readers of Practical Caravan, most drivers miss the official combined figure by some distance.


Even the government body, The Energy Saving Trust, reckons the miles per gallon most drivers achieve is around 15% less than the official combined figure.


The environmental consultant, Dr Ben Lane, believes the tests used to determine fuel economy (the New European Driving Cycle or NEDC) need to change to better reflect the way we drive. 


“While technologies have moved on, the test procedure is stuck in an 11-mile, 20-minute time-warp, one that is increasingly unrepresentative of real-world driving,” says Dr Lane. “While this appears first and foremost a consumer issue, it should be of more concern to manufacturers. Why? Because it’s an issue of trust. While car makers are not responsible for designing the NEDC, I believe they should be doing more to improve the test and develop innovative ways to assess and communicate environmental performance. In a spirit of enlightened self interest, they should do this not only as a means of providing better information, but as part of improving customer service.”


The good news is we’re not necessarily stuck with the NEDC forever, although Dr Lane says change will come in 2014 at the earliest. One option being considered is the Artemis Driving Cycle. This consists of four drive cycles (urban, rural road, and two representing motorway driving) all of which include rapid changes in speed rather than the pedestrian accelerations in today’s NEDC test.


It may not be a realistic aim, but wouldn’t it be great if every car on sale came with an official towing economy figure, too?


You can join the debate on the future of official mpg figures at