Lawsuit Challenges Fuel Efficiency Estimates of Ford C-Max Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid

Earlier this month, Consumer Reports challenged Ford Motor Company’s claim that that the 2013 C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid deliver a combined city / highway fuel efficiency of 47 mpg. In independent tests conducted by the magazine, the C Max Hybrid averaged just 37 mpg, while the Fusion Hybrid averaged a slightly better 39 mpg.

On its blog, Consumer Reports said, “These two vehicles have the largest discrepancy between our overall-mpg results and the estimates published by the EPA that we’ve seen among any current models.”

A class-action suit filed last week by California-based law firm McCuneWright alleges,
“In its advertising and marketing campaign for the vehicles, Ford claimed that the C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid achieved a class leading 47 Miles Per Gallon. These materials helped Ford achieve record sales for the first two months of C-MAX Hybrid sales, outselling its rival, hybrid sales leader Toyota, but there was a problem. These ads were false.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of California resident, Richard Pitkin who claims the Ford C-Max Hybrid he purchased in October is averaging 37 mpg.

In an attempt to defend Ford’s 47 mpg estimate earlier this month, the automaker’s global marketing chief Jim Farley said, “Driving styles, driving conditions, and other factors can cause mileage to vary.” For example, driving in Sport mode consumes more fuel than driving in EV mode. EPA compliance director Linc Wehrly agrees that variables such as weather conditions, fuel quality and individual driving preferences can influence fuel economy and that these factors have a greater impact on the actual fuel efficiency of hybrid models than conventional vehicles.

Farley also said, “Early C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid customers praise the vehicles and report a range of fuel economy figures, including some reports above 47 mpg.”

Ford is not the only automaker to have its fuel efficiency estimates questioned. In recent tests of two Toyota Prius models, Consumer Reports found that they fell an average of six to seven mpg below the official EPA estimates.

Korean automaker Kia Motor Corporation and its parent company Hyundai Motor Company were forced to revise fuel economy estimates of some of their models downward by between one and six mpg after admitting that they had deviated from procedures to attain higher mileage estimates. The companies are offering debit cards to consumers who purchased the models in question as compensation for their higher than expected fuel costs, and numerous lawsuits have been brought against the automakers.

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