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Published on August 16th, 2013 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Ford C-Max Hybrid Fuel Economy Downgraded To 43 MPG

2013-Ford-C-Max-Hybrid-SELWhen the Ford C-Max Hybrid rolled out last fall, the Blue Oval made a big deal about the Prius-rivaling 47 mpg rating. Unfortunately for Ford, real world driving results were nowhere near Ford’s mpg claims, launching both lawsuits and a Federal investigation. The end result cost the C-Max 4 mpg, and Ford millions of dollars in restitution payments.

Going forward, the Ford C-Max Hybrid will be rated at 43 mpg; 45 in the city, and “only” 40 mpg on the highway. Initial tests had pegged the Ford C-Max at just 41 mpg, but a software update from Ford grabbed an extra 2 mpg. That is little solace for customers who though they were buying a domestic rival to the hybrid king, the Toyota Prius. Even though initial sales were strong, so were expectations of fuel economy. In our review, writer Christopher Tracy struggled to get even 40 mpg in city driving.

To make up for the difference in fuel economy, Ford will issue rebates worth $550 to C-Max buyers, and $325 to leasees, and accepting the payment will no doubt make Ford immune to further litigation. No word on if this mpg revisal will also affect the new Ford Fusion Hybrid, which suffers from similar complaints, or the plug-in hybrid C-Max Energi. This is similar to the move Hyundai and Kia made for “over-estimating” the mpg of some 900,000 vehicles.

So how did Ford get the C-Max Hybrid’s mpg rating so wrong? The Blue Oval blames the “general label” rule, which allows automakers to apply a formula to find out average fuel economy, rather than actually test every car it builds.The rule comes from the 1970s, when documenting the fuel economy for every new car was probably impractical.

But with today’s advances in technology, maybe it is time to make automakers test every single car, rather than take their best guess at fuel economy numbers. I’m a huge Ford fan, but it would seem to me that if you’re going to make a Prius competitor, and make a big deal about your fuel economy numbers, you had better be damn sure those numbers are accurate.

That seems like Business Sense 101 to me, but maybe that’s why I’m a writer and not a CEO. Regardless, Ford looks pretty silly right about now, don’t it? You can read the whole mea culpa press release on the next page.

Source: Ford


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About the Author

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. When he isn't wrenching or writing, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



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  • Jason Carpp

    The problem is that most people will believe literally what the commercial advertisement says about a car. If it says that a car gets 50 mpgs, people will believe it. When I first heard about the Ford C-Max getting 47 mpgs, I was skeptical at best. I’ve never driven a Ford C Max or even a Toyota Prius hybrid, but I would think with real-world driving, city driving, interstate driving, long distance driving, etc., that 43 mpgs, or maybe even 40 mpgs, would be more realistic, neither of which are bad figures if you consider the kind of driving most people do with their cars.

    • UncleB

      An honest company doesn’t lie to its customers in its ads! American morality sunk to a new low here? Will American made X ray machines fry their clients to save a buck? Do all American products have this inherent “Bullshit Factor” built in? Could this explain a Bankrupt Detroit City as Shanghai rises evermore ? Will GMO’s actually kill you? U.S. milk products laced with hormones other countries ban? Changes grade school demographics as children mature far too soon to go to high school? Arsenic in American chicken, banned at the Canadian borders as carcinogenic? Is there an endemic moral corruption? Does it serve to destroy American folk? Have they been so ‘dumbed down’ as to accept this sort of exploitation of their ignorance?

      • Jason Carpp

        I agree.

  • UncleB

    Bought a Ford Pinto with the design defect that incinerated passengers in some rear end collisions. Once the news was out, Ford execs saying ‘paying off insurance claims would be more cost effective than model change or work -around modifications’, the trade value of the car dropped to near zero, I took a financial beating and went to Volvo for value. Ford is not new to these sorts of ‘slippery turd’ maneuverings at all. Final Score: American Pride in Manufacturing “0″ Asians ’1″ as Ford shoots on its own net!

  • AaronD12

    Ford’s press release strongly implies they don’t understand aerodynamics. They [said they] expected their C-Max to get the same fuel economy as the Fusion. Yes, they are about the same weight and share the same propulsion technologies, but their frontal area and Cd is significantly different. Of course they’re going to get different ratings!

  • Boomer0127

    and what really stinks is that my 2013 honda civic hybrid has not had a tank under 50 MPG since the first tank and it is rated by EPA at 44 MPG. I do use the ECON button at all times but still, honda is forced to underestimate its MPG yet it doesn’t fully test these outlandish claims. The 2013 Fusion also supposedly gets 47 MPG but if you look at Fuelly’s website, the average MPG for the 2013 Fusion is 41 MPG.

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