Posted in: Commentary,
by Fred Rozell on Jul 20, 2013 06:00 AM
Ford says it now has software upgrades for the 2013 models of the C-Max hybrid and Fusion Hybrid to better align the cars' real-world fuel economy with their official EPA ratings.
This development follows the class-action lawsuits that have been filed, alleging that Ford overstated the fuel economy of its hybrid-electric 2013 C-Max and 2013 Fusion. Both cars' fuel economy ratings are 47 mpg in the city and 47 mpg on the highway.
Edmunds.com reports that the enhancements, which also will be applied to the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, will be offered free of charge to current owners of the 2013 models and will built into all new 2014 models.
According to Raj Nair, Ford's group vice president for global product development, there are about 77,000 existing vehicles in the U.S. and Canada that are eligible for the upgrades, which Ford will have ready beginning in August.
In the spring, suits seeking class-action status in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California charged that Ford essentially saw to it that the C-Max hybrid and Fusion Hybrid earned higher official fuel economy ratings from the Environmental Protection Agency than the cars are able to achieve under real-world driving conditions.
Without directly addressing the complaints, Ford's Nair last December said a variety of factors, chief among them being weather conditions and driver behavior, could have substantial adverse impact on fuel economy.
He said the new software changes will: increase the maximum speed for electric-only drive from 62 mph to 85 mph; optimize the vehicles' active grille shutters that cut aerodynamic drag and speed engine warm-up; reduce the speed of the electric radiator cooling fan; reduce engine warm-up time by as much as 50 percent to more quickly enable all-electric driving and use of the engine's stop/start function and optimize the automatic climate-control system to reduce energy use.
Nair stressed that the new upgrades will not change the vehicles' fuel economy ratings for 2014 (that would require re-certification), only more closely align real-world performance with the EPA ratings. "These are all software changes we're talking about," he added, saying the fixes can be done for owners of existing vehicles in a half-day or less. He also said the software upgrades, while aimed at boosting efficiency, "won't negatively affect vehicle performance.
You may recall that Hyundai and Kia ran into similar problems with dissatisfaction from owners over mileage claims that fell short in real-world driving.
If each new vehicle has a mileage mandate required by the federal government, shouldn't the same government verify the accuracy of the auto manufacturer's claims? Without verification are you willing to trust mileage claims next time you buy a new car?