According to Consumer Reports tests, the Ford C-Max and Fusion hybrids vehicles fall short of mileage claims submitted to the EPA. That has led to a class action suit that echoes an earlier one against Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia.
Did Ford overstate mileage?
According to Autoevolution, Ford’s C-Max hybrid is selling faster than any other hybrid among U.S. consumers, beating out even Toyota’s Prius. However, since people buy hybrids for their fuel economy, the lawsuit could have an impact on future sales.
The 2013 C-Max Hybrid and the Fusion Hybrid sedan are both EPA rated at 47 mpg city/47 highway/47 combined. Those numbers were submitted to the agency from the automaker and are displayed on the window stickers of new vehicles at fine dealerships like Courtesy New Cars, Brooklyn, Ct.
However, Consumer Reports independent testing found both models falling short of the posted numbers. In real world conditions, says the consumer advocacy magazine, the C-Max will get only a combined 37 mpg, and the Fusion only 39 mpg. In the case of the C-Max, that is a 21 percent decrease.
The gap is unusually large. According to Consumer Report, “Among current models, more than 80 percent of the vehicles we’ve tested are within 2 mpg.”
Class-action suit filed
The federal class-action lawsuit, filed on Dec. 7 by Richard Pitkin of Roseville, California, claims the automaker’s fuel efficiency claims for the vehicles are “false and misleading.” He wants Ford to buy the cars back from him and the other plaintiffs in the case, as well as to change its advertising to reflect the lower mpg rating.
Ford has declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.
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According to AutoNews, Pitkin is being represented by McCuneWright LLP, the same law firm that filed lawsuits against Hyundai and Kia for allegedly inflated mileage claims.
Echoing Hyundai and Kia
The action comes on the heels of a similar one against sister Korean automakers, Hyundai and Kia. The companies were recently fined by the EPA for overstating mileage claims on EPA window stickers. The negative publicity garnered by that action may spill over and taint Ford’s image.
Recently, Ford had been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, spearheaded by its being the only automaker of the U.S. Big Three that did not accept bailout money and rode out the recession on its own. However, this latest mark may undo some of that good will.
Challenging EPA test methods
The CarConnection, however, points out that the EPA’s testing method for fuel economy may be in question as it relate to hybrid vehicles. The automotive news source says “those tests have a degree of consistency for conventional gas-powered vehicles.” However, the results have not been so even regarding hybrid vehicles.
Ford is way ahead of them in that speculation. It says it is in discussion with the EPA, questioning its system for testing the m.p.g. of hybrids.