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Ford fuel economy: MPG numbers take another hit

Sections: Fuel Economy

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M~ SUN0805N-Gas 5On the one hand, you want your auto company to be honest with the EPA numbers on the window sticker. On the other hand, can you blame Ford for trying to eke out every last bit of go-juice out of every drop of petroleum. EPA test rules are so well defined one would think it would be impossible to fudge the results. And yet…

Here is what I do know: I did enjoy getting a $300 rebate check for leasing my C-Max. And currently, I am testing the Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost, a car whose original EPA rating of 45 MPG on the highway does seem a bit lofty — but more on that later, after we get our country mouse to confirm his findings.

Bottom line: How come testing is left in the hands of the automaker at all? Shouldn’t there be a central dyno and Horiba at the EPA on the ready? That’s a stop every new car should make before heading over to the IIHS to get smashed. Independence brings accuracy.

Here are the details from Ford on the company’s latest EPA fuel economy hit:

FORD MOTOR COMPANY LOWERS FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS FOR SIX VEHICLES

  • Ford identified an error with fuel economy ratings for certain vehicles through its internal testing and notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Ford worked with EPA as the agency retested the vehicles, which resulted in lower fuel economy ratings for Ford’s 2013- and 2014-model year hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as most 2014-model year Fiestas
  • The company apologizes to its customers, and will make goodwill payments to owners of the approximately 200,000 affected U.S. vehicles for the difference between the previous and revised ratings
  • Ford reviewed its entire line up to determine the vehicles that required further testing and revised the fuel economy ratings for the affected vehicles. No other fuel economy ratings adjustments are planned

VIDEO WITH RAJ NAIR, GROUP VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
YOUTUBE | DOWNLOAD

Ford Motor Company announced today it is lowering the fuel economy ratings for its 2013- and 2014-model year hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as most 2014-model year Fiestas.

Ford identified an error with fuel economy ratings on certain vehicles through its internal testing and notified EPA. The company worked with EPA as the agency retested the vehicles to determine the correct fuel economy ratings.

“Ford is absolutely committed to delivering top fuel economy and accurate information,” said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “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.”

Ford reviewed its entire line up to determine the vehicles that required further testing and revised the fuel economy ratings for the affected vehicles. No other label adjustments are planned.

“This is our error. When we see an issue, we address it,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “That is why we notified EPA and lowered the fuel economy ratings for these vehicles.”

Fuel Economy Testing

Fuel economy testing involves many factors. Ford’s error was specific to a factor called “Total Road Load Horsepower”, or TRLHP. TRLHP is a vehicle-specific resistance level used in vehicle dynamometer testing that determines fuel economy ratings. TRLHP is established through engineering models that are validated through vehicle testing, including physical track tests referred to as coastdown testing.

Use of these engineering models is a common industry practice, consistent with EPA regulations. These models normally are more reliable and consistent than physical vehicle tests, which can exhibit variability.

As an ongoing practice, Ford conducts tests on production vehicles to validate its engineering models. Based on coastdown testing of the Fusion Hybrid, the company found the TRLHP did not match the values used for the dynamometer testing.

Upon further testing, Ford also discovered an error specific to how we correlate wind tunnel results into the TRLHP model. Ford’s error was the result of a recent process change, which the company has since corrected.

Ford has now validated through physical vehicle testing the TRLHP for the vehicles affected by this error and also has instituted enhanced validation tests for future vehicles to prevent reoccurrence of this error.

New Fuel Economy Ratings and Customer Information

Ford has communicated to its dealers that new fuel economy labels will be available in approximately six days and that dealers may continue selling the vehicles until the new labels are received.

Ford estimates that approximately 200,000 of these vehicles have been sold or leased to customers in the United States. Affected Ford and Lincoln owners and lessees in the United States will receive a goodwill payment for the estimated average fuel cost of the difference between the two fuel economy labels, as shown in the table below.

Affected U.S. fleet owners and affected owners outside of the United States will be contacted by their local Ford representatives.

Customers with questions can contact the Ford Customer Relationship Center at 1-866-436-7332 or visit:www.ford.com/mpglabel  and www.lincoln.com/mpglabel.

U.S. EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy Label Ratings and Goodwill Payments*
Model Year Vehicle Powertrain Revised(City, Highway, Combined) Previous(City, Highway, Combined) Lease Customers  Purchase
Customers
2014 Fiesta 1.0L GTDI M/T 31 / 43 / 36 32  / 45 /  37 $125 $200
1.6L A/T 27 / 37 / 31 29  / 39 /  32 $150 $250
1.6L SFE A/T 28 / 38 / 32 30  / 41 /  34 $275 $450
1.6L M/T 28 / 36 / 31 27  / 38 /  31 Combined MPG not affected Combined MPG not affected
2013-14 C-MAX Hybrid 42  / 37 / 40 45  / 40 /  43 $300 $475
Fusion Hybrid 44 / 41 / 42 47  / 47 /  47 $450 $775
MKZ Hybrid 38 / 37 / 38 45  / 45 /  45 $625 $1,050
Model Year Vehicle Powertrain Revised**(Charge Sustaining, Charge Depleting, EV Range) Previous**(Charge Sustaining, Charge Depleting, EV Range) Lease Customers  Purchase
Customers
2013-14 C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid 38 mpg  / 88 MPGe+ /19 mi EV range 43 mpg / 100 MPGe+  /21 mi EV range $475 $775
Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid 38 mpg  / 88 MPGe+  /19 mi EV range 43 mpg  / 100 MPGe+ /21 mi EV range $525 $85
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3 Comments

  1. One would think that Automakers would just take their car and drive it around to figure our fuel economy. After all thats what their customers do. But no, they come up with mpg ratings from a static test in a garage. duh. my car gets 0mpg in the garage.

    jim westveer
  2. My 2001 Suzuki gets a consistent 40 mpg without all the extra expense of special equipment, batteries, the danger those batteries pose in an accident, the hassle of finding a place to plug in, the limited range, etc. etc. It’s 4 cylinder 5 speed provides plenty of “get-up-and-go” when needed, and cruises comfortably all day long at 70 mph. It is easy to get serviced and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg for repairs. I vote for Suzuki!

    Howard
  3. I always thought that those MPG numbers for those new small turbo charged engines were a bit over exaggerated..
    I guess I was right since Ford has now adjusted the MPG rating for six of their vehicles..

    I would look to what Mazda is doing.. They stay with more regular engine size like a 2.0L inline 4 non-turbo in their Mazda 3 but has increased the compression ratio to 1:13 (USA) or 1:14 (Europe/high octane/grade fuel) to increase efficiency..

    I prefer the response of a non-turbo engine for a gasoline car.. You have to work the gears a little more and be in the right rev range to be in the right powerband/torque, but that just adds to the fun of driving..
    Most of the Porsche cayman/boxster/911 models are naturally aspirated with high compression ratios and give you that classic feeling..

    Anders Barfod