Ford to Pay 2013 C-Max Owners for Efficiency Miscalculation


  • 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

    2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

    Ford will pay owners of the 2013 C-Max hybrid because its official fuel economy rating likely was overly optimistic. | August 15, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Ford admitted today that following the longstanding Environmental Protection Agency method for calculating fuel economy for models with similar drivetrains may have caused the 2013 C-Max Hybrid to earn an inflated fuel-economy rating.
  • Ford will make a one-time "goodwill" payment of $550 to those who purchased the 2013 C-Max and $325 to those who leased the vehicle.
  • Ford said that despite efficiency modifications to the 2014 C-Max hybrid, it will come to showrooms with a combined EPA rating of 43 miles per gallon as opposed to the 47-mpg rating of the 2013 C-Max hybrid.

DEARBORN, Michigan — Ford admitted today that because of the longstanding practice for the way automakers work with the Environmental Protection Agency to generate fuel-economy ratings for different-but-related models, the 47 miles per gallon city, highway and combined fuel economy rating for the 2013 C-Max hybrid likely was overstated. As a result, the company said it will make a single "goodwill payment" of $550 to those who purchased a 2013 C-Max hybrid and $325 to anyone who leased the compact utility wagon.

Ford said the payments are owed to owners of about 32,000 vehicles sold, although it's not yet known how many of that number own or leased their cars. Ford also said it voluntarily decided to change the fuel-economy rating for the 2014 C-Max hybrid to 43 mpg combined.

There has for some months been controversy about the C-Max hybrid and the mechanically similar 2013 Fusion Hybrid, with many owners asserting they cannot achieve the 47-mpg rating. The situation led to several class-action lawsuits against the automaker earlier this year and Ford said last month it will institute a variety of software-related enhancements to address discrepancies between the real-world fuel economy of those vehicles and their EPA-rated "label" fuel economy.

In announcing Ford's decision today to reimburse owners of the 2013 C-Max for the extra fuel they potentially may have used, Raj Nair, group vice president for global product development, would not comment on the pending litigation or whether the newly instituted payment might be viewed as settlement of the dispute.

Nair also said that although the 2013 Fusion Hybrid also has the same 47-mpg overall rating as the C-Max hybrid, Ford will not be adjusting the EPA rating for that model because it is the one that actually was tested according to the EPA's procedures. Nair said the C-Max hybrid's fuel-economy rating actually was derived from a longstanding method agreed upon with the EPA called "general label rules." The procedure allows the automaker to test only the highest-selling model among more than one that use the same drivetrain. The general label rule then allows the automaker to apply that rating to other similar models without requiring the expense and time of testing each individual model.

But because hybrids, in particular, can be the subject of wide variability in their on-the-road performance, Nair said Ford and the EPA have decided it may not be the best practice to use the general label rule. The C-Max situation has led to "a change in our approach to testing and labeling vehicles," said Nair in a media conference today.

"We have no plans on relabeling any other vehicles," Nair added, saying Ford will immediately start with the process of contacting owners with details of how to receive the C-Max goodwill payment.

Edmunds says: An extra and unexpected "rebate" for those who bought or leased the 2013 Ford C-Max.

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