The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will review Consumer Reports’ data and findings that showed Ford Motor Co.’s two newest hybrid models fell below the company’s promise of 47 mpg. I will be driving the C-Max Energi this week myself and documenting what mileage it gets. The Energi is the plug-in version of the C-Max, but is not the vehicle in question by Consumer Reports.
The magazine said last week it found the Ford Fusion hybrid, at 39 mpg, fell 17 percent short of the company’s claim while the C-Max hybrid, at 37 mpg, fell 21 percent short of the claim.
Ford advertises that each model will achieve 47 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
The EPA told Bloomberg and The Detroit News it would look at the report and data.
The agency’s investigation is ongoing, The News said, and it could seek civil penalties over misstated claims. A U.S. Senate Committee is also looking into the matter, the newspaper said.
The inquiry into Ford’s mileage claims comes after South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. admitted last month to the biggest overstatement of fuel-economy ratings ever found by the EPA. The companies apologized and offered customers of 900,000 vehicles purchased in the past two years prepaid fuel cards to reimburse them for the discrepancy they experienced in fuel economy compared to what appeared on the cars’ window stickers.
The EPA told The News last week that hybrids in general show more variability in mileage per gallon.
“There’s absolutely no doubt: A hybrid is going to be far more variable than a conventional vehicle,” said Linc Wehrly, director of light-duty vehicle center compliance division at the EPA’s Ann Arbor laboratory, told The News.
“If you said that I could operate in EV-mode until 60 miles an hour for a period of time, you go a long portion on (the EPA) test cycle without the engine going on. That’s going to improve your fuel economy.”
The C-Max and Fusion hybrids are among six new hybrids and electric cars Ford is offering this year and next in an effort to advance in a market dominated by Toyota. CEO Alan Mulally has made fuel economy a cornerstone of his turnaround plan.
Ford is counting on the redesigned Fusion to challenge the Toyota Camry, the top-selling car in the U.S. for the last 10 years. Ford has loaded new technology into the 2013 Fusion, which went on sale in October, and stresses that its hybrid version’s 47 mpg is more than the Camry hybrid’s 40 mpg. The 2013 Fusion was named Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal last month.