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Ford cuts fuel economy estimates on 9 models, faces EPA scrutiny

For the second time in less than a year, Ford has again overstated its EPA numbers.

By Clifford Atiyeh Jun 12, 2014 12:57PM

Ford has cut fuel economy estimates on nine models, marking the second time in less than a year that the automaker has been caught overstating its test results.

The mileage figures of all Ford hybrids and plug-in hybrids from 2013-2014 -- including the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid plus four 2014 Fiesta models -- have come under scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency.


Ford said that it found mistakes on its wind tunnel and dynamometer tests, which it uses to calculate fuel economy on the EPA's standardized tests, when engineers were verifying the fuel economy results on a Fusion Hybrid. The company said it then checked all of its cars for potential flaws in an internal audit and released the results to the EPA, which then verified the numbers at its labs in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Ford is absolutely committed to delivering top fuel economy and accurate information,” said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO, in a statement. “We apologize to our customers and will provide goodwill payments to affected owners. We also are taking steps to improve our processes and prevent issues like this from happening again.”

Those payments, designed to stave off existing lawsuits from C-Max and Fusion Hybrid owners who reported severely reduced gas mileage, range from $125 for a leased 2014 Fiesta EcoBoost to $1,050 for a purchased MKZ Hybrid. Ford is only crediting customers for the drop in the EPA combined mileage, which is a weighted average of the city and highway ratings. Some Fiesta owners won't receive a penny under that clause.

About 200,000 customers are affected. Dealers won't receive updated fuel economy window labels until next week, and until then, they will be allowed to sell the cars as-is. The EPA said that Ford has 15 days under the law to make the changes and will personally oversee fuel economy tests for "future vehicles." The EPA relies on manufacturers to submit their fuel-economy estimates and verifies only about 15 percent of all new cars every year.

The MKZ Hybrid suffered the worst fuel economy losses, with a drop of 7 and 8 mpg, respectively, from its previous 45 mpg city/45 mpg highway rating. The Fusion Hybrid took a hit from 47/47 mpg to 44/41 mpg, and the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi gave up two miles each from their former 21-mile estimated electric-only range. The new Fiesta EcoBoost that Ford lauded last year as the most fuel-efficient nonhybrid gas-powered on sale has been stripped of its title. Instead, the title goes to the Mitsubishi Mirage. (The full list of affected models and their previous and current EPA estimates can be found here.)

In August last year, Ford dropped the C-Max EPA rating -- formerly, at the same 47/47 mpg rating as the Fusion Hybrid -- after admitting it used an EPA regulation from 1977 that allows manufacturers to use the same fuel-economy estimates on "vehicles with the same engine, transmission and weight class," according to the EPA.

Ford applied the same EPA test rating it achieved from the larger Fusion Hybrid without testing the C-Max separately. But despite sharing powertrains and similar weights, the two cars are built on entirely separate platforms. The C-Max is a 5-door compact hatch, while the Fusion Hybrid is a conventional 4-door sedan. Ford paid C-Max owners $550 and lessees $325, or what Ford said was the difference in the EPA's estimated five-year fueling costs.

In that same month, Ford dealers began updating powertrain software on 77,000 2013 Ford C-Max, Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid models that Ford said would "provide our customers enhanced on-road fuel-economy satisfaction." That announcement, which promised higher electric speeds and various electronic tweaks, was made in July.

In December 2012, Ford initially fell under EPA scrutiny -- and a host of lawsuits -- after Consumer Reports published an article describing the disappointing fuel economy of the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max. One month earlier, Hyundai and Kia admitted fault in overstating fuel economy for 1.1 million cars -- about 75 total models -- and initiated a lifetime compensation program to its owners.

[Source: Ford via EPA]
Jun 12, 2014 2:49PM
Get rid of the ethanol in gas and we'll get better mpg
Jun 12, 2014 2:42PM

we ALL know they ( NOT just Ford, all of them ) write these numbers with criterea and conditions that you and me will never see....

at sea level ....

with pure gasoline...( not this ethenol crap we get stuck with )....

aired UP tires.....

Lightened up cars ( no spare, no full gas tank, etc. )

Mild acceleration...

Low top speed...



So they may truly GET those results once ...but to advertise that all of US can do the same ? ? ?

Jun 12, 2014 3:55PM
Get rid of ethanol and the mileage will improve 25%
Jun 12, 2014 2:35PM
Didn't Hyundai  do the same thing,,,
Jun 12, 2014 2:38PM

I've got a 2013 F-150 with the ecoboost and the best I can get at 70 mph is 16 to 17.  My average highway is right at 15 to 15.2.  I have heard people getting 22 or 23 but after owning my second F-150 since 2010 I find it hard to believe the mileage estimates are correct.  I love my truck and wouldn't trade it for another brand but it's thirsty for sure.  My wife drives a 2013 Explorer with the Ecoboost 4 cylinder and we've seen a 26 at best and the estimates were 29.  So my experience with the Ecoboost is that I am less than impressed with the fuel economy.  Both overstated probably as much as 25%. 

Jun 12, 2014 2:55PM
All auto makers exaggerate.  I average 25mpg on my new Honda Civic and Honda claims that the car gets up to 44mpg on the highway.   yeah, I got sold a bill of goods also.
Jun 12, 2014 3:07PM
Actually all the Fuel Economy tests are done on a chassis dynamometer programmed to simulate the rolling and aero resistance, and they are all done to the exact same procedure. Fuel? Actually they do not even use the fuel we can buy, it is called indoline clear and has no additives. So if you think that by running no spare and pumping up the tires, etc helps the numbers, it just isn't done that way. 
I have run hundreds of these tests in the past. The interesting thing is that they do not measure a drop of fuel. The mileage is calculated by what comes out of the exhaust, which is mostly carbon dioxide. By knowing how much carbon comes out you can calculate the fuel used.
Can you cheat on the test? Of course. It sounds like Ford was plugging in some bad aero figures. 

Jun 12, 2014 2:26PM

"... marking the second time in less than a year that the automaker has been caught overstating its test results."

Ford said that it found mistakes on its wind tunnel and dynamometer tests...."

Yes shame on Ford for catching there error and reporting it to the EPA.

Jun 12, 2014 2:55PM
Jun 12, 2014 2:51PM
We have 2 vehicles that get 5 mpg better mileage on straight gas than on 10% alcohol fuel, and we avoid the alcohol fuel where possible.  Both vehicles get 2-3 mpg better mileage than their "rating".  I think the mileage rating system is unreliable for any brand car.  Time to re-evaluate the testing procedures and get more realistic.  If nothing else, an "alcohol" rating and a "gasoline" rating should be on the sticker.  That would shock some people.
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