Debunking a Conspiracy Theory About Honda Hybrid Fuel Economy (Thanks VW)

Hybrid batteries

For those of us who work with hybrid cars professionally, there are certain complaints we get tired of hearing.

Some background: my company works with batteries in hybrid cars and specifically Honda Hybrids, generally older models like Honda Civic Hybrids (but also Accords and Insights). Since most people don’t have much professional experience with hybrid battery replacement or hybrid cars fuel economy issues, they don’t usually get to peek under the hood, so to speak.

If you browse the popular hybrid car forums, like Prius Chat and, you’ll find certain types there. First, you have your hybrid lovers, dedicated green car buyers obsessed with their vehicles. Then, you have ritual complainers, motorists who sign up for these forums just to complain that they’ve been scammed and ripped off. Among the most common whines you’ll hear, online or in real life at the auto shop, is that car makers are lying on their EPA stickers about the fuel efficiency you can expect.

For years hybrid mechanics have been confidently dismissing this conspiracy theory. Enter Volkswagen. UGH.

Can Automakers Lie on Their EPA Stickers?

One of the consistent conspiracy theories we’ve heard is that Honda and other hybrid makers lie about their actual fuel efficiency on those EPA fuel economy stickers, the one that state the city, highway, and combined mpg.

Now, while VW has admitted to cheating on their emissions tests, no other hybrid makers are implicated in the scandal. And here’s the thing to remember: no auto maker gets to decide what to print on those stickers. The EPA tests the vehicles, then mandates what information is printed on the stickers. That’s why VW is in so much trouble in 2015. They didn’t just lie about their fuel economy, they cheated the official tests and government regulators, both in the United States and European Union.

Help! My Honda Hybrid Fuel Economy Is Low/Getting Worse/Not as Advertised!

This is another common complaint. HCH (Honda Civic Hybrids) owners say they aren’t achieving the optimal Honda hybrid fuel economy they expected. Usually, this happens for two reasons. One, they aren’t driving the car the way it was intended. Their tire pressure is low, they’re overloading the car, or their driving style simply wastes gas.

In other cases, the car is just getting older and has some mechanical issues. If you really aren’t getting the Honda hybrid fuel economy that was advertised, then you might need to see a mechanic. If you drive a HCH from 2007 or 2008, then your car is starting to age. Around the eight year/100,000 mile mark, many people find that they need a hybrid battery replacement, which can often improve overall performance.

Got any more questions? Put any questions you have in the comments!

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