Heather Peters has won her small claims suit — and now we all may lose.
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If you drive it very gingerly, if you keep it under 50MPH and accelerate very gradually, it is entirely possible to realize the federal government’s publicized “high” MPG figures — and even to exceed them. The problem, of course, is that it is difficult to drive this way if you ever want to get anywhere — and/or have any concern about not driving your fellow drivers to fury by impeding their progress.
There is also the problem of conditions. They, too, vary.
A Civic hybrid that does not have to ascend 8 percent grades every day, that is not driven at high altitudes (where the air is thinner) or for months on end in 20 degree weather, is going to be easier on gas than a hybrid Civic that is subjected to any one of these conditions, or to all of them. And if, say, you run around on under-inflated tires, or need of a tune-up, then once again, your actual mileage will vary.
So, arguably, Peters’ lawsuit was fundamentally wrongheaded — and the judgment, unjust. The court did not even try to determine how she actually drove her car, even though it is a critical piece of evidence. The only question considered was whether her car delivered the advertised mileage — notwithstanding the bold-faced caveat that the advertised mileage is for “comparison purposes only” and that (wait for it) your actual mileage will vary.
I’d be worried if I were a major (or minor) automaker because the same engineering-ignorant reasoning used by the court to award Peters her $9k could be used to award many others a lot more than $9k. Peters believes the potential payout could exceed $2 billion — and that’s just Honda. If the other automakers are targeted along similar lines — and remember, legal precedents apply across the board — then the total sum could be many times a mere $2 billion. It could cripple the industry, not just the hybrid vehicle industry. The mileage of every single car on the road will vary, according to all the subjective conditions and use patterns each individual car is subjected to.
I test cars for a living and drive a new one every week. I can assure you that the mileage I see varies considerably from that promised by the window sticker. I have pushed it down by 50 percent (drive a car at 90 or 100 MPH and see how much your mileage varies) and — for a change of pace — done everything conceivable to eke as many MPGs out of it as possible by driving as slowly and a gingerly as possible.
These are extremes, of course — but the essential point remains: Your mileage will vary.
Unfortunately for Honda — and potentially, the entire car industry — it’s a point lost on both Peters and the California courts.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online