Ford is eating crow today, announcing reduced fuel economy ratings on six of its vehicles.
Critics regularly panned Ford’s official fuel economy estimates for being optimistic if not entirely false. Until today, the company defended its ratings in most situations. Now the company is offering its customers cash concessions and is revising the ratings on the Fusion and C-Max hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles along with the Fiesta sub-compact and Lincoln MKZ hybrid. Ford said today that it estimates roughly 200,000 customers will be affected and is offering cash payments to them.
The outlays range from $125 for customers who leased a 1.0-liter EcoBoost Fiesta to $1,050 to people who bought a Lincoln MKZ hybrid.
Ford blames the fuel economy errors on a improperly calibrated dynamometer testing it uses to determine fuel economy ratings and wind tunnel data that was improperly factored into that test. The company was quick to point out that the test is common in the auto industry and compliant with EPA regulations. Nevertheless, it has since put all the vehicles affected in today’s announcement through a physical validation process.
“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 CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement today.
Last August, Ford officially downgraded the C-Max hybrid’s official fuel economy estimates by four miles per gallon to 43 MPG. At the time, it argued that the 47 MPG estimate was derived from tests conducted on the Fusion Hybrid with which the C-Max shares its powertrain. Under EPA regulations, automakers are allowed to copy ratings if the powertrains are the same to eliminate redundant testing.
Now the already downgraded vehicle is being revised again to 40 MPG along with five others. Its plug0in hybrid sibling is being cut down from 43 MPG and a 21-mile electric range to 38 MPG and up to 19 miles of driving on electric power alone.
During the scandal surrounding the C-Max, Ford stood behind the mileage it claimed the Fusion Hybrid would achieve, but the company now says that car will return 42 MPG. The city rating used to stand at 47 MPG, but is being pulled back by more than 12 percent to 41.
The 1.6-liter Fiesta with an automatic transmission is also being reduced from 34 MPG to 32. City fuel consumption for the small vehicle is officially dropping from 41 MPG to 38. All Fiesta models are being affected including the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder model.
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