2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Ford wants to call its Fusion Hybrid the most fuel efficient mid-size car, Toyota says no you can't

What is a mid-size car? Many consumers would think mid-size has something to actually do with the size of the car in physical dimensions, which is doesn't. The federal regulations that determine what class a car falls into actually have to do with interior combined passenger and cargo space.

For instance looking at the Toyota Prius, many would assume it to be a compact car. Its combined interior and storage space amounts to 110.6 cubic feet, slightly over the 110 cubic feet threshold that makes the Prius a mid-size car in the government's eyes.

Ford and Toyota are "cordially disagreeing" according to Toyota on the mileage claims that Ford is making for its new Fusion hybrid. Ford wants to market the Fusion hybrid, which has 111.6 cubic feet of combined interior space, as "the most fuel efficient mid-size car" with EPA economy estimates of 41 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway.

Toyota says that not only is its Prius a mid-size car according to federal regulations, but it gets better mileage than the Fusion with 48 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. The Fusion certainly looks more like a mid-size car than the Prius at about 800 pounds heavier, 16-inches longer, and 4-inches wider than the Prius according to USA Today.

Toyota spokesman Joe Tetherow said, "We are reviewing Ford's mileage claims for Fusion." The marketing claims are important to Ford as it tries to revamp its image to be more green and thus sale more cars in the face of slowing sales.

Ford says that it is comparing its Fusion hybrid to the Camry in its marketing claims. The Camry gets 33/34 mpg. Ford's Mark Truby says, "We've been pretty clear, probably annoyingly clear, to Toyota that we're comparing Fusion to Camry."

If Ford continues with its marketing efforts based on the current claims, Toyota could file suit or take the matter before the FCC. Truby says, "There's a process to work through. Sometimes there's an asterisk (in ads), clarifying why you think you can say that."

He continues saying, "Fusion (hybrid) is the most fuel-efficient midsize, in the way customers shop for cars. If we do use it in advertising, we'll say most fuel-efficient midsize 'sedan'." The Prius is a hatchback, not a sedan. Such wording would skirt Toyota's complaints.

Toyota issued a statement today saying, "It’s not exactly a squabble. What’s going on here is that we respectfully and cordially disagree on the definition of a midsize car. This is important when we’re discussing the EPA fuel-economy ratings of vehicles like the Camry Hybrid, the Prius and the Ford Fusion."

Toyota says that its 2010 Prius Hybrid has the virtually identical interior dimensions as the Fusion hybrid and is rated for 50 mpg in the city. Toyota goes on to say in the statement, "But look, here’s the deal: There’s a larger piece of business going on here, and it’s one in which we all can rejoice because no matter your brand preference, it points toward a national and societal good. It is that automotive fuel economy is on the rise. Not everywhere, and not as quickly as some might like. Technology, after all, rarely makes quantum leaps. More likely, it takes incremental steps."

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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