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Ford restates mpg estimates on 6 models after internal audit

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WASHINGTON -- For the second time in less than a year, Ford Motor Co. is lowering fuel economy estimates on 6 key models, including several hybrid cars, as the EPA puts pressure on automakers to ensure mpg labels reflect real-world fuel efficiency.

The agency said Thursday that Ford will change the labels for the Fiesta subcompact; the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the mid-sized Fusion; the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the C-Max hatchback; and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

Most of the changes are between 1 and 5 mpg, but the city and highway fuel economy values for the MKZ Hybrid will be reduced by 7 mpg, from 45 mpg combined to 38 mpg.

.... Ford said it will make goodwill payments to consumers who leased or purchased the affected vehicles. The payments, Ford said, will range from $125 up to $1,050,


http://www.autonews.com/article/20140612/OEM11/140619944/ford-to-restate-mpg-estimates-on-6-models-after-internal-audit-epa?cciid=email-autonews-blast&r=9331F3702912E6S

 

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Well, at least they found the issue and are getting out in front of it. It is not good that it happened, but things do happen.

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Damn. Just damn. I don't see how this is defensible. And what happened to the EPA audits that were done last year? I thought the EPA confirmed the actual tests were ok and it was just the decision to use the Fusion data for the C-Max that was the problem.

 

I could see 1-2 mpg from some obscure test parameter, but 7 mpg for the MKZ hybrid?

 

I wonder if this was how the test was run or which options/models had to be used (optional wheels/tires e.g.)?

 

Damn. This is not good Ford. Kudos for self-reporting before being forced to do it but damn.

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Looks like I'm getting another $475 for my 2013 C-MAX Hybrid. With the previous $550 goodwill payment, I'm getting a $1,025 rebate, all while I get 45-47mpg (in the summer, at least).

 

Wonder what this will do to C-MAX sales now?

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Damn. Just damn. I don't see how this is defensible. And what happened to the EPA audits that were done last year? I thought the EPA confirmed the actual tests were ok and it was just the decision to use the Fusion data for the C-Max that was the problem.

 

I could see 1-2 mpg from some obscure test parameter, but 7 mpg for the MKZ hybrid?

 

I wonder if this was how the test was run or which options/models had to be used (optional wheels/tires e.g.)?

 

Damn. This is not good Ford. Kudos for self-reporting before being forced to do it but damn.

I'm wondering if it had to do with weight of the MKZ? With features like the retractable roof and stuff like that? Just a guess...

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Obviously disappointing news today but I'll have to give Ford credit for being pro-active. Instead of trying to ignore the problem, avoiding or delaying action until being forced to address the issue in a defensive posture, Ford is taking full responsibility for the testing errors they found and compensating customers accordingly. That's what I call be credible.

 

Internally, outgoing CEO Mulally can't be pleased and I'm sure that there have been some serious discussions with those involved in the EPA tests.

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Well, outgoing CEO Mulally should take a bit of blame himself.

 

He had to know that tying compensation to FE figures incentivized cheating/finagling/distorting FE tests.

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Obviously disappointing news today but I'll have to give Ford credit for being pro-active. Instead of trying to ignore the problem, avoiding or delaying action until being forced to address the issue in a defensive posture, Ford is taking full responsibility for the testing errors they found and compensating customers accordingly. That's what I call be credible.

 

Did they really have a choice?

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Damn. Just damn. I don't see how this is defensible. And what happened to the EPA audits that were done last year? I thought the EPA confirmed the actual tests were ok and it was just the decision to use the Fusion data for the C-Max that was the problem.

 

I could see 1-2 mpg from some obscure test parameter, but 7 mpg for the MKZ hybrid?

 

I wonder if this was how the test was run or which options/models had to be used (optional wheels/tires e.g.)?

 

Damn. This is not good Ford. Kudos for self-reporting before being forced to do it but damn.

The criteria for categorizing a vehicle within a weight class is to use options that have at least a 33% take rate. But it's based on sales estimates because the testing has to take place before the vehicles are actually sold. Sometimes there is some gaming to try to keep within estimates (repackaging of options, etc.), but the Sales guys hate in the worst way restricting options from customers (which I fully understand).

 

Unfortunately, Ford always seems to struggle just to get into the top range of a weight class so there isn't much wiggle room. I know you understand, but for those that don't, the weight class is one of the factors used to set resistance on the dyno rolls for fuel economy testing.

 

The big number for the MKZ does sound like they blew a weight class. Maybe due to a reconciliation to the real option take rate vs. the projected rate in addition to other factors?.

 

I also thought the C-Max was closed from the EPA. This had to be some procedural error on Ford's part? So much for credibility. In addition to hybrids, EcoBoost powertrains also have come under a lot of pressure. Hope there aren't more shoes to drop..

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So this is the second time the C-Max got downgraded? Even after the updates?

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Damn. Just damn. I don't see how this is defensible. And what happened to the EPA audits that were done last year? I thought the EPA confirmed the actual tests were ok and it was just the decision to use the Fusion data for the C-Max that was the problem.

 

I could see 1-2 mpg from some obscure test parameter, but 7 mpg for the MKZ hybrid?

 

I wonder if this was how the test was run or which options/models had to be used (optional wheels/tires e.g.)?

 

Damn. This is not good Ford. Kudos for self-reporting before being forced to do it but damn.

 

This is what happened in chronological order -

 

1. Ford used Fusion internal test numbers 47/47/47 to estimate the C-Max MPG numbers at 47/47/47 by using EPA's loophole that allow car companies to estimate results for cars with similar drivetrain and weight characteristic, rather than physically test and validate them. That was basically creative interpretation of the rule. I'm guessing MKZ was also certified at 45/45/45 using this method with a slight downward revision to account for weight difference.

2. After C-Max when on sale and various magazines and CR tests show the car returning much lower numbers, EPA told Ford it had to retest/resubmit the numbers and cannot use the Fusion numbers to estimate C-Max. So Ford did an internal test and number for C-Max was lowered to 45/40/43. But this was still just Ford doing the test.

3. EPA decided to audit Ford... so EPA will be doing the testing instead of Ford. EPA does this routinely and other car companies also had to restate the numbers after EPA audit - most recent example I can remember was 2012 BMW 328i... lowered by 3 MPG after EPA audit: http://blog.caranddriver.com/fuel-economy-ratings-for-2012-bmw-328i-automatic-drop-after-epa-tests-produce-lower-figures/

4. The EPA results came back and C-Max is lowered again to 42/37/40 (which is actually pretty close to what CR observed and what people are getting in real life), along with other Ford models. Note: Fiesta 1.6 manual actually pickup 1 MPG in the city cycle (27 MPG to 28 MPG) as result of EPA test LOL!

Edited by bzcat

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2. After C-Max when on sale and various magazines and CR tests show the car returning much lower numbers, EPA told Ford it had to retest/resubmit the numbers and cannot use the Fusion numbers to estimate C-Max.

By class action lawsuit from owners with lead foot (and greedy hearts), not by magazines test drives, I think?

Magazines love 0-60 tests!

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The EPA never told Ford they could not use the Fusion numbers for the C-Max - it was well within the rules. I'm sure they told Ford that all hell would break loose with the public if they didn't change it, but it is still legal to this day. Wrong, but totally legal.

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Austin - when the LS first came out they had to make a running change on the V8 sport models to not allow subwoofers on the audiophile stereo or rear headrests. Yes, rear headrests - so every pound counts. So yes I understand how weight works and I'm also guessing that was a big part of it. I bet the take rate on retractable roofs was higher than expected.

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Looks like a human error (if you believe what they say). I don't think this has anything to do with a change in take rates on options. You would have heard this spun that way if that were the case.

 

Nair said Fords errors stemmed from the coast-down test in which a car glides to a stop from highway speeds. The test is crucial when calculating fuel economy in a laboratory because it measures forces such as aerodynamics and rolling resistance that do not come into play when a stationary car spins its wheels on a dynamometer.

 

 

Ford has started doing its coast-down tests with a computer simulation rather than on a track, using wind tunnel tests to calculate the aerodynamics of its cars.

Nair said Fords engineers made an error in plugging these wind tunnel results into the coast-down formula -- which led to a more optimistic projection of real-world fuel economy when the company did its dynamometer tests.

Edited by Intrepidatious

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In addition to hybrids, EcoBoost powertrains also have come under a lot of pressure. Hope there aren't more shoes to drop..

 

Funny you mention that, I think the one of the issues with the Ecoboost is gas quality. I've seen lots of people bitching about the Ecoboost motors on the West Coast (California and Arizona) when running them on regular...seems like the octane ratings are on the low side vs whats on the pump due to the different formations of gas throughout the country

 

I have a tuned 3.5L Ecoboost that gets nothing but Sunoco 93 in it (and I'm on the east coast) and I get about 18-20 MPG driving about 15-20 miles to work every day going down a highway with lights that the speed goes from 55 to 35 MPH depending on how built up it is. My highway mileage is a bit worse then what the sticker says...I can get about 23 (25 is what its rated for, did that once) on nothing but pure highway driving, but yet I have another friend who has alot more mods then I do (that can do 12.5 1/4 times too) that gets in the mid 20s, but also does more highway mileage. I'm pretty happy with the MPG I get considering its a 400+ HP AWD car that weighs over 4400lbs.

 

I can see the I4 Ecoboost engines burning more gas since people would have their foot into them more often due to the power they have...a V6 has decent power already, where as a I4 has ok power, but with the ecoboost it has great power...which people would be hitting on

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Gee - this sounds familiar.

 

Procedural errors at Hyundai’s testing operations in Korea led to incorrect fuel economy ratings for select vehicle lines.

 

The MPG rating discrepancies resulted from procedural errors during a process called “coastdown” testing. Coastdown testing measures a vehicle’s aerodynamic drag, tire rolling resistance and drivetrain frictional losses, and provides the technical data used to program the dynamometers that generate EPA fuel economy ratings.

 

Unacceptable. You should never use a simulation without periodically checking its accuracy. And you should not have a process that allows such a discrepancy to go unnoticed.

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A member here named EBFlex was banned here for railing on the fusion hybrid numbers. Guess the chickens are coming home to roost now. Now what was that you guys said about CR being such a sham? There may be more bombs to drop here with the eb engines. This is really really bad for Ford. Mulally is responsible ultimately but no way he could know of all of the shannigans going on. This one should be real interesting to watch unfold.

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I dont see this as Ford being out front on it either. They have been caught since the EPA is doing the testing and have no choice but to pony up some money to owners which the owners deserve for such a caper by Ford.

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A member here named EBFlex was banned here

 

A member here named EBFlex was banned because he had been banned before under at least two other aliases, and because this same individual has used my name to register at other websites.

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Bottom line here:

 

Ford tied bonus structures to externally verifiable data such as quality results, market share, and (to a certain extent) profitability.

 

They also tied bonuses and the company's 'vision/values/mission' to fuel economy, which is an internally measured result.

 

Anyone can see the obvious potential for abuse here.

 

Further, I cannot recall a past incident of this scope involving FE at Ford, so I'm very much inclined to credit this fudged coast-down factor to an effort to meet unrealistic benchmarks.

 

About the only good thing that can be said about it is that, if past incidents are any indication, this probably won't happen again and---for once---nobody died.

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