Print 41 comment(s) - last by ptmmac.. on Mar 11 at 11:47 PM

Ford fails to deliver on promised efficiency again

If you're a fan of green vehicles or are shopping for car promising lots of fuel economy, you may be familiar with the Ford C-Max Hybrid and the Toyota Prius V. These vehicles are two of the most popular hybrids in the segment. Ford has been at the center of allegations from several publications that had reviewed the C-Max claiming that the vehicle does not meet the fuel economy promised.

Previously, the EPA had stated that it was ready to investigate Ford over allegations of improperly stated fuel economy numbers for its C-Max and Fusion Hybrid. A recent test conducted of the C-Max Hybrid and the Prius V by reviewer Wayne Gerdes found that the Ford C-Max didn't achieve fuel efficiency suggested by the EPA's numbers.

The EPA shows that the C-Max gets 47 miles per gallon in all three EPA test categories (city/highway/combined). According to Gerdes, in his testing the C-Max managed only 35.537 miles per gallon over 360 highway miles. However, he does admit that in the city he was able to achieve 52 miles per gallon over 22.8 miles of driving, which is better than the EPA promises.

Ford C-Max

He also tested the Prius V along the same driving route and achieved 40.768 miles per gallon on the highway and 55.8 miles per gallon in the city. That means while the EPA lists lower numbers for the Toyota (44/40/42) compared to the C-Max, it actually outperformed the C-Max.

Gerdes isn't alone in finding that the Prius V posted better real-world efficiency numbers than the C-Max, Motor Trend came to the same conclusion during its tests.
As with any review that tends to focus heavily on miles per gallon for hybrid vehicles, you have to have a saltshaker ready. Driving style and conditions greatly affect fuel efficiency numbers for hybrid and electric vehicles. That means the results from one person won't necessarily be the same for the next.
However, real world numbers from fuel economy conscious C-Max and Prius V owners on Fuelly back up the claims that the former lags far behind its EPA numbers while the latter hits them right on the mark.

C-Max Hybrid on Fuelly

Prius V on Fuelly

Sources: Autoblog, CleanMPG

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By Mint on 3/1/2013 10:08:19 AM , Rating: 2
Have you ever seen an automaker so cocky about their MPG claims? It's as if they're saying, "go ahead and run the test yourself".

But here's a guy doing controlled tests, and even steady state driving is only getting 51MPG at 50 MPH. How can the C-Max then get 47MPG in a test with varying speeds needing braking and acceleration and all the losses associated with that? If it's legit, how does Ford minimize the difference between steady state and the EPA cycle so much more than any other hybrid?

I want to see someone actually try the EPA cycle, and maybe flip around some segments to see if any pattern detection is going on. Something fishy is going on...

By Spuke on 3/1/2013 11:22:32 AM , Rating: 2
Didn't the article state that the C-Max's 52 mpg was achieved in CITY driving?

By Nutzo on 3/1/2013 12:17:20 PM , Rating: 5
The problem with highway portion of the EPA test, is that it is a highway test, not a freeway. The average speed for the test is around 45 mph.

A big diference between the hybrid systems on the Prius and the C-Max is the top electric speed. The C-Max can travel at up to 62 mph on electic, where the Prius is limited to around 45.

The higher electric speed allows the C-Max to stay in electic mode much more during the EPA test than the Prius. But in real life, who drives 40 on the highway?
At 70MPH, the hybrid portion of the car no longer maters, as you are using the ICE.

By drycrust3 on 3/1/2013 2:09:49 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with highway portion of the EPA test, is that it is a highway test, not a freeway. The average speed for the test is around 45 mph.

If people don't get the same results as Ford did, that doesn't mean Ford lied about their results, it could easily those people aren't driving their car the way Ford did. One thing that seems to be missing from all of this is asking Ford how they actually conducted the test that got them the results they say they got, and not to laugh when Ford tell them.
If the results are the result of a real test, and I think they are, then Ford would have (or should have) told their driver how they wanted the car to be driven, and if he was a good driver then he would have done exactly that. For example, say the driver was told to drive at 46 mph +/- 1 mph along a certain road with a known tail wind, then that is exactly what he would have done.
As much as we may not like it, it isn't illegal to exploit loopholes in taxation law, and it isn't illegal to exploit loopholes in fuel economy standardisation tests.
If the EPA doesn't like companies exploiting loopholes within their tests, then they should tighten up the standards.

By FiveTenths on 3/1/2013 2:39:57 PM , Rating: 3
The mileage tests are done on a dyno following the EPA speed trace. There is a highway trace, city trace, and a few others requiring a/c and heater use.

All of the variables are set by the EPA and the whole thing is really just a standard to compare one car to another. It isnt representative of the milage you will actually get from the car, hence the " your milage may vary" disclaimer

By drycrust3 on 3/1/2013 3:22:38 PM , Rating: 3
So ... let me get this right ... from what you're saying there is so little "wriggle room" that Ford basically have no hand in how the results are obtained? If that is correct, then why are people blaming Ford and not the EPA?

By Mint on 3/1/2013 10:11:53 PM , Rating: 3
Because only Ford's C-Max and Fusion are seeing such inflated numbers with the EPA test.

For virtually all other cars, if you drive around in a manner similar to the test cycle, you'll get within 5% of the EPA rating.

By toyotabedzrock on 3/1/2013 5:34:54 PM , Rating: 1
But that would make weight, aerodynamics and rolling resistance irrelevant.

By Mint on 3/1/2013 9:36:48 PM , Rating: 2
Rolling resistance applies to a dyno as much as it applies to a road, as the tires still deform and bearings still roll on the dyno. Weight and air resistance are parameters for the dyno, telling the machine how much resistance to provide as a function of speed and acceleration. Weight is very easy to measure.

The only thing that can be manipulated is Ford is lying about air resistance parameters (i.e. coefficient of drag), but that's not too hard to test so Ford would be foolish to do so.

By Reclaimer77 on 3/1/2013 10:45:41 PM , Rating: 1
Do the dyno rollers also have the exact same friction as concrete or blacktop does on the tires?

No matter how much you try, you can never truly duplicate real world driving conditions in a lab.

The EPA method is wrong.

By Mint on 3/1/2013 11:45:14 PM , Rating: 3
Road friction doesn't affect fuel economy, because the tires don't skid in normal use. It's tire deformation that causes rolling resistance, and road texture plays a minor role unless you're driving through potholes or on dirt/sand. You're nitpicking 1-2% now, and that's accounted for with a simple coefficient as well.

Really, what do you want? 100 different real world MPG measurements to choose from depending on the exact conditions where you live and how you drive?

A standardized controlled test is the only reasonable way to make a measurement for comparing MPG between cars.

By Reclaimer77 on 3/2/2013 12:25:21 AM , Rating: 1

Really, what do you want?

Isn't it obvious? I want the Government to stay the fuck out of fuel economy.

By xti on 3/2/2013 11:44:50 AM , Rating: 2
well, they help not keep it from going to $6/gallon or w/e, milking gas efficiency is prob the responsible thing.

either way, they aint gonna please everyone...

By drycrust3 on 3/5/2013 6:00:28 AM , Rating: 2
A standardized controlled test is the only reasonable way to make a measurement for comparing MPG between cars.

The problem being the results of the standardised tests are more inaccurate for some vehicles than for others, and since the tests are done on an EPA dynometer, then doesn't that suggest there is a problem with this method?

By Mint on 3/1/2013 9:55:37 PM , Rating: 2
The EPA has the US06 test for higher speeds if you're interested, but that's unrelated to my qualms.

CleanMPG did steady state tests at various speeds, and at 50 MPH got 51 MPG with the CMax. The EPA highway test is mostly 45-55 with variation (which hurts MPG) and an acceleration + stop (also hurts MPG). Average speed is 48.3 MPH, not 45:

So how does the C-Max lose almost no efficiency (i.e. from 51 MPG down to 47) when going from steady speed to adding all the braking/accelerating of the EPA highway cycle?

If it really is legit (i.e. highly efficient regenerative braking), then why does it only appear in the EPA test and not in any other similar driving?

By cyberguyz on 3/1/2013 1:54:17 PM , Rating: 1
A few American dollars in the right pockets goes a long way.

By Reclaimer77 on 3/1/2013 3:35:18 PM , Rating: 1
Only our Government could usher in such a clusterfuck. Does the way the EPA arrive at their numbers make any sense to anyone??

By Keeir on 3/1/2013 8:38:15 PM , Rating: 2
Does the way the EPA arrive at their numbers make any sense to anyone??

Yes. They make perfect sense.

By Mint on 3/1/2013 11:04:23 PM , Rating: 2
use methodology that in no-way ever reflects real world MPG
WTF are you talking about? Virtually every other car gets matching results in the real world, and in fact you'll beat the ratings if you drive similarly to the test schedules because the EPA adjusts the measurements downward.

It derives ratings from five total tests, including one for aggressive driving (SFTP US06), one with AC on, etc.

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