Ford Motor Company announced it has lowered fuel economy ratings for 2013 and 2014 model year hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as most 2014-model year Fiestas.
Ford says it identified an error with fuel economy ratings on certain vehicles through its internal testing. Ford notified the EPA and worked with the EPA as the agency retested the vehicles to determine the correct fuel economy ratings.
Quote from the CEO
“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.”
Total Road Load HP
According to Ford, this particular 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.
Ford says using these engineering models is a common industry practice and is consistent with EPA regulations.
Goodwill payments coming
Ford estimates the error affects approximately 200,000 vehicles that 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. According to Ford, the payments could be from $125.00 to $1,050.00.
Don't single out Ford
To be fair, Ford and other auto makers are placed in a tough spot by EPA testing methods. There is controversy over the way MPG figures are calculated because many experts say the tests don’t reflect real world driving conditions. Furthermore, EPA methods tend to make hybrids in particular look better in testing. Consumer Reports conducted an audit and found there was a considerable gap between mileage ratings for hybrids and real world mileage. Check out the Consumer Reports article here.