Ford Hit with Class-Action Lawsuit Over C-MAX, Fusion Hybrid Fuel Economy Claims
Brandon Hill & Shane McGlaun
December 27, 2012 8:48 AM
Ford sued over hybrid vehicle efficiency claims
Ford is defending itself against a class-action lawsuit brought against it by McCuneWright, a law firm based in California, alleging false and misleading marketing campaigns for the 2013 C-MAX and Fusion hybrid vehicles. The law firm alleges fraud and negligent misrepresentation by Ford and filed the suit in US District Court Eastern District of California.
The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages including the reimbursement for the purchase price of new Ford hybrid vehicles. The main plaintiff in the suit is Richard Pitkin from Roseville, California. Pitkin purchased a C-Max Hybrid vehicle in October and alleges that he has only averaged 37 mpg during that time. That mileage is significantly lower than the EPA rating of 47 mpg.
"In its advertising and marketing campaign for the vehicles, Ford claimed that the C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid achieved a class leading 47 Miles Per Gallon," part of the 17-page suit read. "These materials helped Ford achieve record sales for the first two months of C-MAX Hybrid sales, outselling its rival, hybrid sales leader Toyota, but there was a problem. These ads were false."
The Ford C-MAX and Fusion Hybrid, like many vehicles, are essentially built to “ace the EPA test”, so it can be very difficult for drivers to achieve the rated fuel economy numbers in the real world. For example, the highway portion of the EPA test stipulates that a vehicle should be able accelerate to a maximum highway cruising speed of 60 mph. Ford hybrids can operate at up to 62 mph on battery alone power if driven in the exact same manner as prescribed by the EPA. Once a driver crosses the 62 mph mark, however, the gasoline engine springs to life and the fuel economy drops.
Most major U.S. highways have speed limits of 65 mph or higher, and even if the speed limit is a more “hybrid friendly” 55 mph, most people likely cruise at 60 mph or higher. And one also has to remember that no hybrid can travel on battery power alone, indefinitely – the gasoline engine will eventually kick in to maintain cruising speed.
Ford Fusion Hybrid
reviewed the C-MAX earlier this month and found it obtained 37 mpg overall with 35 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Similar findings with the Fusion Hybrid found that the vehicle achieve 39 mpg in testing overall.
Fuelly, a website that tracks fuel economy readings from everyday drivers, mirrors
findings and shows that 51 drivers are
averaging just 39 mpg in the C-MAX
. The Prius v, the main competitor to the C-MAX, is
showing an average of 42.1 mpg
from 219 drivers versus an EPA combined rating of 42 mpg.
Ford isn't the only automaker to find its fuel efficiency claims disputed in court.
was caught inflating fuel efficiency estimates and was forced to create new window stickers for the vehicle fleet reflecting more realistic efficiency claims.
"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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