We Indians are obsessed with being frugal, always looking to extract the best and the most efficient possible result from anything we undertake. And with such a significant investment like that of a car, the expectation of being economical further enhances. Buying a car is a conscious decision probably involving a great deal of your savings, a decision you cannot afford to see turn into a shitty call. To control the further drain of your savings (on something at which you already have projected a majority of it), you need a fuel-efficient car.

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Car manufacturers are familiar with such ethics of an Indian car buyer. They know that fuel efficiency is a top priority of the car buyer and car companies take advantage of this by Integrating huge fuel efficiency numbers in their car’s Advertising campaigns to lure customers into the dealerships.

These Fuel economy figures are Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) approved, a Co-operative governmental body that is engaged in activities ranging from Research and Development to evaluate the Automotive industry products and equipment.

Over the years we all came to know for a fact that the fuel efficiency figures sanctioned by ARAI are nowhere near the economy figures we get in real-time driving conditions. There are various factors affecting this difference and today we take a look at some of these factors and also get to know why companies are still using these figures for promoting their cars.

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  1. ARAI’s test is not on an actual road

    The ARAI test is done using a chassis dynamometer which aims to simulate the Indian Driving Cycle (IDC) to test the cars in conditions as close to the real world as possible. The test tries to achieve this by taking into consideration several forces that act upon a car in actual conditions (like inertia). However, despite all the efforts, the simulation is not at all a close match for the actual driving conditions and hence the fuel efficiency figures for a car tested on a dynamometer is askew.

  2. ARAI tests are very brief

    The ARAI test has a duration of mere 19 minutes (1,140 seconds) for a distance of 10 Km with the simulated city and highway road conditions on a Dynamometer at an average speed of around 31Km/h. The speeds do not exceed 90 km/h with the deceleration and acceleration happening gradually.

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    It is literally very hard to fathom how such a short spanned test can bring about an apt economy figure for the cars it tests. In the case of real-time driving, a car has to go several kilometres in order to achieve an optimal fuel economy figure.

  3. ARAI’s IDC test is not entirely meant for testing fuel efficiency

    The primary objective of ARAI’s IDC test being conducted on all sorts of automobiles is to ensure that all the vehicles abide by the emission standards of our country and primarily measures the emission levels of the vehicle. The fuel efficiency rating is something the test shows alongside the emission levels. It calculates the Fuel economy rating using an empirical formula.

    The reason behind ARAI releasing these figures is to have an understanding of the rate at which the fuel efficiency of two different vehicles varies from each other (which vehicle is more fuel-efficient and which is less). The figures from the test do not signify the actual fuel efficiency of a vehicle in real-time conditions.

  4. Tests are conducted on new vehicles only

    The economy that you’ll be able to fetch from a new vehicle won’t remain the same after putting some thousand kilometres on the odometer. ARAI’s test doesn’t consider this factor. It performs its test only on vehicles which have just been rolled off the factory line. Hence, there is no way you’ll be able to know the fuel efficiency of your vehicle on the later stages of its lifespan from ARAI’s an emission/economy test.

  5. There are other factors left unconsidered

    Several other factors are not considered by ARAI while conducting a test for fuel efficiency of the vehicle, some of them are as below:

    • Test conditions: The ARAI test is conducted in a simulated city and highway road conditions which are not able to take into consideration several factors from the real-time driving like altitudes and elevation of certain roads, diverse traffic conditions, idling at traffic signals, etc. The test does not even include turning the air condition on while it is being conducted. Absence of all these factors means that ARAI’s fuel efficiency rating is far from being accurate for real-time driving conditions.
    • Driving Dynamics: During the test, the vehicle is made to run on average speeds of around 31 Km/h where the throttle, clutch and braking actions are computer-controlled. This means that the test fails to keep into consideration the fact that every driver has a different driving dynamic which is the most important factor for keeping a car fuel-efficient.

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Why do car brands use ARAI fuel efficiency figures?

Well, who doesn’t like a bagging a big number? Since fuel efficiency is the top priority of the Indian car buyer and ARAI rated test figures are always much greater than the actual economy figures, car companies use it to their advantage in showcasing their products as a more fuel-efficient offering. These figures are used as mere marketing tools by these brands to influence sales. Company personal try their best to convenience the potential customers that under optimal driving conditions, these economy figures can be achieved. Hence, it serves as a very attractive sales pitch.

These figures are more or less a long-shot on actual road conditions. So next time while you hit a dealership for your new car, don’t let the sales executive fool you with the ARAI rated figures. Ask them for Actual road-tested fuel efficiency figures.

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  1. I owe Hyundai grand I10 sports model 2017. It gives mileage of 20 + kmpl. As i daily drive aprox 150 km on average speed of 70 – 80 km/h.

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