Sound the sad trombone, because once again there is a lawsuit over the failure of drivers to achieve the listed EPA mpg numbers. This time it is Ford which is facing the wrath of angry car buyers, spearheaded by a buyer out of California who wants the Blue Oval to reimburse him for his purchase while ceasing sales tactics highlighting the 2013 Ford Fusion and C-Max Hybrid’s 47 mpg rating.
There have been grumblings almost since the two next-gen Ford hybrid vehicles went on sale in September. By November, Consumer Reports was hinting that the mpg ratings weren’t holding up in the real world, and a scathing report declared that the two Fords had the largest rating-to-real-world mpg discrepancy in the magazine’s history. Other outlets reported similarly-disappointing numbers, though a few magazines came awfully close to the 47/47/47 rating.
The lawsuit was filed by the McCuneWright law firm on behalf of Richard Pitkin, who wants Ford to rescind sales in California and reimburse him and other buyers for their faulty hybrids. Furthermore, Mr. Pitkin wants Ford to carry out a corrective information campaign correcting “misrepresentations and corrections.”
Honda was the first automaker to feel the heat from customers who felt like they weren’t given the full hybrid experience when the Civic Hybrid recieved a software downgrade that severely affected mpgs. The plaintiff initially won her suit in small claims court, before the ruling was appealed and overturned this past spring.
Then came Hyundai/Kia, which was also sued for failing to deliver vehicles that lived up to mpg claims. The Koreans opted to reimburse owners an amount related to how far they drove as well as lower the mpg numbers, which seemed to placate most drivers who probably never really noticed a problem in the first place.
But Ford has a much larger problem on hand. While their argument that driving styles can adversely affect mpg is legitimate, the huge mpg discrepancy and relative newness of both the Fusion and C-Max could really hurt the brand going forward.
Even if it turns out that drivers with low mpg have a lead foot (and you can bet they’ll be checking out the onboard blackbox to get an idea of how Mr. Pitkin drivers), the damage done to Ford’s reputation could cause consumers to think twice before buying a Blue Oval product. Probably not how Ford wanted to start the New Year.
Source: Automotive News