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Ford lowers fuel economy ratings for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and Fiestas; goodwill payments to buyers coming

13 June 2014

Ford Motor Company 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. In some cases, the reduction was minor, on the order of 2-3%. The MKZ hybrid, however, was hit with a 15.6% reduction in combined fuel economy (45 mpg down to 38 mpg), and the C-MAX and Fusion plug-in hybrids saw about a 12% decrease in charge sustaining and charge depleting fuel economy, and about a 10% decrease in all-electric range.

Ford said it had identified an error with fuel economy ratings on the vehicles and notified the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ford worked with EPA as the agency retested the vehicles to determine the correct fuel economy 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 label adjustments are planned.

Ford
Click to enlarge.

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.

This is our error. When we see an issue, we address it. That is why we notified EPA and lowered the fuel economy ratings for these vehicles.

—Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development

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 physical tests on production vehicles to validate the 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 it correlates 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.

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

This is not the first issue Ford has had with fuel economy numbers. In 2013, Ford voluntarily relabeled the 2013 C-MAX Hybrid with revised fuel economy labels following EPA testing of the 2013 C-Max Hybrid. EPA had received consumer complaints that the vehicle did not achieve its label values of 47 mpg US for city, highway, and combined driving (5.0 l/100km). (Earlier post.) Ford dropped the C-MAX combined rating to 43 mpg combined. This, as noted above, has now been further reduced to 40 mpg combined.

June 13, 2014 in Fuel Efficiency | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

When I drove an early C-Max hybrid, I knew the size and acceleration didn't get 47 MPG combined - still, I hoped it would be over 40 MPG for Ford/US hybrid sake.

It seems to me that the C-max hybrid and Energi are aesthetically-challenged with poor aerodynamic efficiency in comparison to the Fusion. As such, IMHO, the C-max line should be dropped and replaced with a hatch back version of the Fusion.

Ford charges $1000 more for the Fusion hybrid in comparison to the C-max, even though I'd bet that it costs Ford the same to make both models, and this will bring back more profit for Ford as well.

Even the revised MPG's for the Fusion hybrid is quite good considering the size of the vehicle, and is on par with the latest Camry hybrid. Perhaps with aggressive weight-reduction campaign that Ford is waging now will bring future Fusion hybrid to the 50 mpg mark, along with better battery and engine downsizing.

I'd be happier if Ford would simply fix some of the many software issues in the drive-by-wire Energi models.  I have a list of bugs that have had no fix in a year.

The 2013 Fusion Energi will exceed 50 MPG at 50 MPH cruise.  Careful drivers can squeeze most of what they want out of it, if not all.  Right now better advantage would come from being able to charge at every stop than most other possibilities.

Thanks, E-P for sharing your experience. Indeed, it has been my suspicion all along that the Fusion hybrid has the potential to do a lot better than what people have been claiming, and hwy mpg certainly should be a lot better than 41 mpg.

The Prius gen 3 with 1.8 liter engine can do almost 60 mpg at 60 mph Hwy cruise. Even w/ A/C on in warm and humid weather, using Shell regular gasoline, the Prius gen 3 can do above 60-MPG combined driving, even though it is EPA-rated at only 50-mpg combined. Using other gasoline brand, it can get around 55-58 mpg, clearly exceeding EPA rating. Likewise, the Fusion hybrid with a 2.0 liter Atkinson-cycle should be capable of above 50 mpg combined using Shell gasoline, even though EPA-rated at only 42 mpg combined.

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