Ford has an image problem. Not to the average punter of course - cars like the Fiesta and Focus are at the top of the class and the Mustang undoubtedly casts a halo over the brand.

No, Ford's image problem is one of gas mileage. According to Automotive News, Ford says only 32 percent of U.S. drivers believe their cars are fuel efficient - meaning a worrying 68 percent have a low opinion of fuel economy in Fords.

You're probably as confused as us - after all, the 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid came second in our top-five high mpg all-wheel-drive list, the 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid made it onto our list of the top 10 highest mpg cars on sale and both the 2012 Ford Focus SFE and the 2012 Ford Fiesta SFE made our 40 mpg for $20,000 list.

So what gives? Ford clearly produces some fuel efficient cars, but consumers are seeing the opposite. This could be problematic, as Ford's global marketing chief Jim Farley points out.

"Fuel economy is ground zero in pricing power in the U.S. for Ford... If you can change perceptions on fuel economy, you can change pricing power across your whole lineup."

With sales up 11 percent in October compared to a market average of 10 percent Ford isn't suffering too much at the moment, but despite the heavy push towards EcoBoost technology the company is apparently suffering the "eco drag" of vehicles like the Mustang and F-Series trucks - even though these vehicles are far more efficient than they used to be.

Perception of the Blue Oval might change when the 2012 Ford Focus Electric hits the streets, as rival GM's green reputation has no doubt improved since it released the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric vehicle.

Even if sales aren't particularly high, electric cars improve a company's green image as much as cars like the Mustang and Corvette do for a sporting image.

After all, we already know that offering electric cars helps sell gasoline vehicles too...


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.