Ford Tries to Improve Disappointing Hybrid Fuel Efficiency with New Software Update
July 17, 2013 8:40 AM
comment(s) - last by
Software update won't change window stickers
Ford has announced that it will be applying a software update to its hybrid vehicles with the intention of
improving the real world fuel efficiency for owners
. The software update will be made available for approximately 77,000 Ford Fusion, C-Max, and Lincoln MKZ hybrid vehicles.
The update will also be made available for all 2014 model year hybrids. Ford has said that the update will "reduce the variability in MPG" many owners see. The update will help optimize active grill shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag, and increase the electric-only top speed from 62 mph to 85 mph among other things.
The software update is a response to owners of Ford hybrid vehicles who have complained they can't achieve the 47 mpg average promised by the EPA.
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
Ford hybrid owners over at Fuelly.com have reported real world combined ratings of 40 mpg and 41 mpg respectively for the
. This is well short of Ford’s claimed 47 mpg combined rating for the two hybrids.
Ford claims that many of the complaints of poor fuel efficiency have come from owners in the Midwest. Some of the issue for these owners is linked to the colder climate and higher speed limits, both factors that can negatively impact hybrid fuel efficiency. The software update will not change window sticker fuel economy ratings according to Ford and the EPA is aware of the new software.
currently fighting lawsuits
over the fuel efficiency claims after some of its hybrid vehicles were unable to achieve the promised fuel efficiency. The
and Fusion hybrids have been criticized for not being able to meet fuel efficiency claims in real world consumer and third-party tests.
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RE: Edit needed
7/17/2013 1:06:52 PM
The EPA highway test only hits a maximum of 60 mph and averages only 48.3 mph over 10.26 miles. Pretty convenient that the "old" top speed was 62 mph in EV mode. That allows Ford to maximize using the battery for the EPA highway test of just ten miles; but after that you're running pretty much on the gas engine. Hence why most people aren't able to hit 47 consistently on the highway.
Even the High Speed test averages just 48.37 mph over 8 miles.
RE: Edit needed
7/17/2013 3:37:05 PM
Unless Ford is starting the test with a full battery and draining it by the end, which is prohibited by the EPA, I don't see how that should make such a difference.
Cruising at highway speeds is where an engine can be most efficient, and you'd probably lose efficiency by draining a battery into 60 mph electric cruising and charging it later.
Again, the 62 mph motor doesn't explain city mileage either.
RE: Edit needed
7/18/2013 1:09:19 PM
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are solely that of my own and are not representative of Ford Motor Company or its affiliates.
Well, first off, nowhere in the article does it say/mention anything about the city mileage, so I'm not sure what's with the fascination or the hang-up over the whole "city mileage" thing.
Second, with the old 62 mph max electric motor speed, it means that if you have a speed that's < 62 mph, you increase the probability that you will be running on electric (it MAY or may NOT happen depending on the battery's state of charge). It isn't an automatic guarantee that just because it's less than the max. electric motor speed that it will automatically run in EV mode. And by increasing the probability that you'll be running on the electric motor, means that you're also decreasing the probability that you'll be running on gas (either as assist or primary motive power or to recharge the battery); which means that if you're not using gas, you're going to increase your fuel economy number.
(Common sense stuff).
Third, I forget the weighting of the 5 fuel economy tests (2 original, 3 supplemental).
Fourth, in tests that I've done with my own 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium Hybrid, there's a section of highway just outside of Windsor that's relatively flat and open and straight. I ran a test where I did one of the runs at 110 km/h (69 mph) and on the return, did it at 119 km/h (74 mph) and the difference is 3 mpg. (I've yet to try it at 90 km/h (56 mph) and 100 km/h (62 mph).)
I know that driving up I-295 around Washington, D.C.; with the construction and traffic now, I can hit 43-46 mpg easy because the combination of traffic and construction meant that I could drive (and stay) at 50-60 mph for relatively long stretches (before both traffic and construction disappeared which let me go faster). And that was like 10 PM on a Saturday night.
If I can stay at 55 mph, it'll alternate between spending a few minutes charging the battery (it looks like it goes up to like 80-90% SOC) and a few minutes draining it again (which it does in pure EV mode, which it burns no gas when it's doing that). And anytime you're not burning gas, it increases your fuel economy. And I've also discovered that if you run on electric as much as you can, you don't have to drive very far to have a huge impact on your overall fuel economy. My swinging around Alexandria/Washington D.C./Baltimore (coming up from Fredericksburg, VA, on my way back to Detroit, MI) - I was able to increase my fuel economy average by 0.2 mpg when I've already got 7500 miles - it makes a HUGE difference. Any right now, because the weather has been ridiculously hot up here, I KNOW that I am really hurting my fuel economy with blasting the A/C, and I still haven't been able to bring my average down from that (yet) even though I know that my current trips around quite a bit lower than my lifetime average fuel economy.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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