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