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Ford tweaking calibrations to boost on-road fuel economy for MY2013 hybrids

16 July 2013

Ford is boosting the on-road fuel economy performance of its 2013 model year hybrid vehicles in the US and Canada. Starting in August, the company will make calibration updates for owners at dealerships designed to improve on-road fuel economy of the 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid, 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. New 2014 models will have the updated settings from the factory.

Ford had attracted criticism (and lawsuits, see below) around the end of 2012 for the large discrepancy between real-world fuel economy results for the C-MAX hybrid and its EPA fuel economy ratings—47 mpg (5.0 l/100km) city, highway and combined—earlier highlighted in detail by Consumer Reports. (Earlier post.)

At the time, Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, said that Ford stood by its fuel economy ratings as determined by the current testing protocols, but that the performance attributes of the vehicles as designed leads to more sprited driving. Combining a “lead foot” with environmental factors can lead to the wide swings in fuel economy results, he said. (Earlier post.)

The discrepancies resulted in a number of class action lawsuits alleging Ford overstated the fuel efficiency of its hybrids. In June, the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated 15 such putative class action lawsuits. The multidistrict litigation (MDL) is being handled by US District Judge Kenneth M. Karas. The Ford Hybrid Fuel Economy Class Action Lawsuit case is In re: Ford Fusion and C-Max Fuel Economy Litigation, MDL Nº 2450, in the US Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation.

Calibration updates to Ford hybrid vehicles include control system enhancements for a variety of driving conditions on the highway, during short trips and while using the climate control system. Enhancements include:

  • Increasing the maximum pure electric speed to 85 mph from 62 mph, allowing increased use of electric-only mode on the highway.

  • Optimizing the use of Active Grille Shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag under more driving and temperature conditions including cold weather, during air conditioner use and when the engine coolant temperature is higher.

  • Reducing the electric fan speed as a function of coolant temperature to minimize the fan’s energy consumption.

  • Shortening engine warm-up time by up to 50 percent to enable electric-only driving and engine shutdown at stops sooner after cold starts.

  • Optimizing the climate control system to minimize use of the air conditioning compressor and reduce the energy used in cold weather operation.

Just as individual mileage can vary based on driving styles and environmental conditions, we expect fuel economy improvements will differ from customer to customer depending on individual driving habits. Customers should see the most improvement at highway speeds, during air conditioner use and operation in colder climates.

—Raj Nair

The updates will not affect the EPA ratings.

July 16, 2013 in Fuel Efficiency, Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Ford hybrids are fun to drive and hope this brings MPG much closer to EPA sticker.

The August, 2013 Car & Driver review of the Ford Fusion Energi PHEV rated its real MPG @ 41 MPG, not far from its EPA 43 MPGe (not the Electric + Gas Combined of 100 MPGe). The Fusion Energi has a similar 85 mph pure electric speed. So my guess is the Ford Fusion Hybrid will get close to the 47 MPG EPA rating based on this review.
Car & Driver rated the Ford Fusion very high, even better than the Honda Accord Plug-in. Though these PHEV are still $10K more expensive than non hybrids, it appears that auto manufacturers are really understanding the technology of this future mode of auto design. Also, included in this issue is the ultimate PHEV, the Porsche 918 which is possibly the best auto in the world and expect this tech to filter down to all Porsches in the future. Though the 918 is very expensive today at $850K, in 1986 Porsche took the advanced design of the 959 which was the ultimate vehicle of its day and today its tech can be found in all current Porsches.

Bloomberg:

'Ford’s hybrids were “absolutely developed and calibrated to provide a strong EPA number'

In other words, Ford hybrids won't perform as good in Real life. Ouch.

Nice car, but mpg ratings set by brothers GRimm. Been to 4dealers, all who tested car going around the block or downhill. I tested again the other night. 18 miles total elevation change 265 ft. No ac, never over 60 mph on freeway and got 32.1. I have ave 32.8 for over 9000 miles with over 40% ev miles and a brake score of 88%. Whi is kidding who. Ford lies and the dealers swear to it. Do NOT buy the fusion hybrid looking for anything over 34 mpg in very moderate driving. Ain't gonna happen. I am enrolled in the class action

The reprogramming really did the trick. My car now SHOWS on the computer that it is getting 20-25%% better mileage. Actually it is doing better by about 1-2 mpg, but the biggest reprogram was in the computer readout. For the first 30 or so fill ups, I carefully tracked actual fuel used and mpg with what the computer said. It was never off by more than 3%. NOw it is off by between 15 and 18%. So, if you have the IQ of meat, as Ford would expect you to have, and never actually check, you are going to be thrilled with the update. On the other hand, if you actually check using the "real: method of filling up at same station facing the same direction each time, then dividing miles driven by actual gallons filling the tank, you will find that the Ford fix is all tent and no circus. To be more blunt, it is BS! One Ford Customer Service "manager" actually told me that the EPA tests were on flat roads, one person in car, no luggage, never over 55 mph at sea level with no accessories (radio, AC, or defrosters turned on. He said the ay "normal folks" drive the mileage would be around 35 mpg. Oh yes, the windows must be rolled up so as to not create "drag". What bullshit!

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