Ford overstated 2013 C-Max Hybrid fuel economy rating

Aug. 16, 2013
EPA announced a revised fuel economy label estimate for the vehicle and will initiate an effort to update labeling procedures to keep pace with industry trends.

As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) commitment to ensuring consumers are given accurate fuel economy values, the agency is revising estimates for the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, and announcing plans for updating its fuel economy labeling regulations to ensure that the requirements keep pace with industry trends and innovations in advanced high-efficiency vehicles. Ford is voluntarily re-labeling the vehicles with these new values.

EPA tested the C-Max after receiving consumer complaints that the vehicle did not achieve the label values of 47 miles per gallon (mpg) for highway, city, and combined driving. The new fuel economy estimates for Ford 2013 C-Max are 43 mpg combined, 45 mpg city, and 40 mpg highway. Fuel economy estimates are found on the Fuel Economy and Environment window sticker of new vehicles, as well as on, the U.S. government source for fuel economy information.

Developed in 1977, EPA label regulations allow, but do not require, vehicles with the same engine, transmission and weight class to use the same fuel economy label value data, since, historically, such vehicle families achieve nearly identical fuel economy performance. Ford based the 2013 Ford C-Max label on testing of the related Ford Fusion hybrid, which has the same engine, transmission and test weight as allowed under EPA regulations.

For the vast majority of vehicles this approach would have yielded a more accurate label value for the car, but these new vehicles are more sensitive to small design differences than conventional vehicles because advanced highly efficient vehicles use so little fuel.  

To date, most high-efficiency hybrids have been used in a single vehicle design and therefore do not have this issue. The Ford hybrid family is one of two examples in the industry where advanced technology vehicles with the same engine, transmission and hybrid components are used across multiple vehicle designs. EPA regulations allow but do not require automakers to generate a label for each design in this circumstance. With the new Ford C-Max label, each vehicle design within the two high-efficiency hybrid families now has its own label.

Looking forward, EPA expects to see greater use of common high efficiency systems across multiple vehicles by manufacturers in order to improve quality and reduce manufacturing costs. EPA welcomes this emerging trend and will be working with consumer advocates, environmental organizations and auto manufacturers, to propose revised fuel economy labeling regulations to ensure that consumers are consistently given the accurate fuel economy information on which they have come to rely.

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