The EPA is taking the unusual step of hauling in Ford's C-Max hybrid for special testing as it reevaluates its rules for determining mileage for next-generation hybrids, USA Today reports. Usually, the EPA lets automakers test their fuel mileage themselves according to its rules, but the agency has had a black eye ever since Consumer Reports blasted Ford's hybrids in December for not getting anywhere close to their lofty advertised ratings in real-world usage.
The EPA is worried that its entire approach to the advanced hybrids is flawed. These vehicles can cruise at highway speeds without using any gas at all, but mileage will vary wildly depending on usage. "If you drive a hybrid the way you drive your Porsche, you are going to get less than the national average," says the EPA's director of the office of transportation. The class of hybrids also includes the Chevy Volt, but it hasn't gotten the same kind of complaints Ford's hybrids have.