EPA To Dig Into Ford Fusion Hybrid, C-Max Hybrid Mileage

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2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to look into claims that two Ford hybrids don't meet their official fuel economy ratings in real world driving.

We reported back in November that the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid struggled to attain their official ratings, even driven with fuel-efficient techniques.

Since then, Consumer Reports has run its own tests on the vehicles and found them to be out by a full 20 percent, both cars topping the charts for vehicles unable to meet the EPA figures.

The EPA will study Consumer Reports' data, says the L.A. Times, to seek more information before it decides upon any action.

Mere weeks before we reported on the Ford duo's poor real-world economy, Korean carmakers Kia and Hyundai were in hot water over their own ratings. Both companies had been overstating their cars' mileage figures, some by several MPG.

Both companies issued unreserved apologies, and said that each buyer would be issued with a debit card to the value of fuel the owner may otherwise have saved in the mileage-adjusted vehicles. Each company is also facing a federal lawsuit for further compensation.

Ford insists that owners of each hybrid have been able to achieve figures equal to and greater than the 47 mpg each offers--but the company will certainly be worried about the threat of a fate similar to the Korean marques.

In Consumer Reports testing, each car managed only 35 mpg in city driving--12 mpg shy of the official 47 mpg city rating. CR admitted that each was still a good result for the type of car, but significantly below the EPA numbers.

While the old adage "your mileage may vary" hardly needs repeating here, we've seen before that consumers aren't prepared to put up with variation outside their expectations...


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Comments (19)
  1. I think there is a high liklihood that the EPA will audit Ford's hybrid results. But the EPA "going over CR's data" except in a cursory fashion doesn't really have much relevance. The EPA and CR tests are two different animals.

    CR's highway test is conducted at 65 mph with speed control over a known highway. Ford's eCVT electric-only top speed is 62 mph, so that means the eCVT is actually more of a drag at these speeds. Because C-Max is tall, aerodynamic drag also is likely to be a major factor.

    The EPA highway cycles average 48 mph with multiple speed changes and some stops, a situation better suited to a hybrid. I suspect Ford's lab techs are very adept at modulating the throttle to go to electric mode as much as possible.

  2. Very well stated, Rich. I can't stress enough the difference between the CR and EPA tests. I'm not stating that Ford didn't stretch the ratings, either, just that we all need to wait to see the actual results before we jump to conclusions. With Hyundai/Kia, it fit a previous pattern where H/K submitted bogus performance results and got busted for that years ago, so it wasn't their first time trying to game the system and getting caught.

    Just for Ford's credibility, I hope the EPA results are legitimate. If not, they woulod lose far more than what they would have gained if not caught.

  3. @Robok, @Rich K: I agree that the two tests are very different. But I'm not sure those differences matter so much to real-world consumers. Their concern is that Ford hybrids vary much more from EPA ratings than cars from other makers do.

    Even if the EPA test results for the Ford hybrid are confirmed at 47 mpg--but virtually no consumers get anywhere near that in the real world--I suspect there will be further "adjustment factors" created to bring the EPA test results more in line with those real-world mileages.

    That's what happened several years ago, when owners of Toyota Priuses and (particularly) Honda Civic Hybrids weren't getting anything like the numbers in the EPA ratings.

  4. John, I agree with your assessment that there might be further EPA adjustments at some point, but it's a big deal to overlay changes and rebase the whole system with "new" and "old" measurements (the EPA site already has this so a third level would be really confusing).

    Even if Ford achieved the economy by "acing the test", perhaps it would have been smarter to use a lower number for the label. Better to underpromise and overdeliver.

    The EPA tests also are used to determine CAFE to determine compliance. With aggressive mandated increases in mileage, it's critically important for companies to have their products test well.

  5. I totally agree that EPA needs adjustment, especially when their 11 miles test cycles. It needs to be much higher/longer. I propose at least 20 miles if NOT 30 miles.

  6. John, I agree that most cosumers won't care about the specifics, so even if the EPA tests match Ford's there will still be bad PR due to disappointing real world mileage/emissions. I'm mainly referring to the immediate assumption that Ford was intentionally dishonest, which is clearly how most are taking this.

    I agree with Rich that Ford may have used a more conservative number, but since we've been waiting for changes to the EPA tests for a while, a short-term change there seems unlikly to me. I think you understand better than most here what that would entail, both in terms of costs and complexity.

    As a real world consumer, I'd pass on the cars, too, until I was confident on the real mileage. That might be a while, of course.

  7. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the EPA's findings.

  8. This should be a "warning" to all automakers as how far to "push" the MPG rating.

  9. Drivers who experience less than "estimated" results will be the first ones to complain. when it should be used for direct comparison only.
    The other car owners Who are likely Satisfied, or accept that they dont get as close to the estimates are the ones who just proceed with their business, which falls under (i have nothing bad to report) category, and most wont actually take the time to post their positive results as well either..
    Further increasing the differences. Most people dont know how to drive a "hybrid" or EV efficiently until after getting used to it. Most dont consider it at all.

    When somethings this new, and economy based. Most like to stretch a new cars legs, negatively affecting result from the "norm" even further.

  10. Maybe I'm confused about the EPA numbers. But if the EPA numbers are gotten from EPA tests, isn't the EPA at fault and not Ford?

  11. NO.

    EPA only test about 15% of all cars. EPA rating depends on the test results supplied by the auto makers. That is why Kia/Hyundi cheated the system.

    EPA gives specific details and conditions of which the tests must follow. But it doesn't run the tests itself unless it finds the issues with the results or doing an independent investigation.

  12. http://fusionhybridmpg.blogspot.com/

    I am getting an average of 31.7 MPG (Winter Milage) on my 13 FFH

  13. You'll do better in arm weather. The electric-only mode will not kick in regardless of driving technique until the system is fully warmed up. Obviously, in warm weather this is a negligible issue, but in cold weather it makes a significant difference to city MPG--I would guess 3-4 MPG.

  14. I am also getting an average of 31.7 MPG that is City/HIghway on my 2013 FFH. NOT HAPPY!

  15. One thing I found, and may be related to you guys, the engine takes at least 6 miles to warm up enough to switch to EV, and then only if your heater is set to low. If you turn on max defrost, it can take up to 10 miles or more before it gets warm enough. Short drives will kill fuel economy in this car, for sure!

  16. It is important to understand that the discrepancy (6 MPG) between the EPA rating and CR test for highway driving is based mostly on Ford's own success. Ford managed to get the highway speed at which the car can run on electricity only up to 62 MPH. That speed is higher what is used for much of the EPA test, but lower than the 65 MPH that CR uses. Thus, the EPA test allowed for much more electric-only use (higher mileage) than the CR test. No other hybrid allows electric-only use at speeds as high as the Fusion/C-Max.

    What concerns me more is the even larger discrepancy (12 MPG) in city driving between EPA and CR. The amount of time in electric-only mode should be no different in city driving.

  17. I thought my C-MAX would be a Prius Killer? As a cross over buyer I feel deceived. I want to support US companies and US jobs. What was Ford thinking when they published 47/ 47 estimates? I would have been ok with low 40's but low 28-33 is not even in the ballpark. Mark my words there will be no fix for this. Ford should offer to take the cars back or offer cash compensation to offset the mileage claims. The EPA estimates will have to be adjusted to the mid 30's and sell the cars as is. My dealer's sales and service department were ok at the beginning of the complaint process, but now have turned hostile and un-professional.

    Ronald Kramer
    Yankee Ford Customer
    South Portland, Maine

  18. Agreed. These cars are not fairing well in the colder states, but doing OK in the southern warmer states. I do believe Ford has a cooling system issue with the Cmax/Fusion hybrids. I have been using a scangauge and noticed the car runs at or below 160* with heater on. Too cold for good MPG. Mine has been in twice, and going in again this week, Already had the spark plugs carbon foul. Seeing under 35 MPG while my 2010 has been getting much higher. I can see 43 MPG in my 10 FFH, when I can barely see 38 in the 13. Not good Ford, not good at all.

  19. Ford says some drivers get or exceed 47 MPG? I can, but only going downhill. It's even tough to stay in EV mode on flat roads. 36.5 is the best I can do. I bought the C-Max based solely on the fuel savings. Traded up from a 2012 Focus Titanium that I really liked. The C-Max is a great car, but I wouldn't have made the switch if I knew then what I know now. I want my Focus back!

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