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Ford will also give cash payments of $550 to buyers of the C-Max

The writing has been on the wall for months, but it looks as though Ford is finally listening to its countless critics. After a few lawsuits, blowback from publications like Consumer Reports, and even findings from actual drivers, Ford has lowered the fuel economy ratings for its C-Max hybrid.
 
The C-Max was previously rated at 47/47/47 (city/highway/combined), but the company announced today that it would lower those numbers to 45/40/43 (city/highway/combined). The biggest hit came on the highway, where the C-Max saw its rating drop by seven miles per gallon. The new combined rating puts the C-Max just one mile per gallon higher than its chief rival: the Toyota Prius v.
 
In addition, customer that bought a C-Max will receive a $550 cash rebate from Ford; lessees will receive $325.


2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
 
“Ford is absolutely committed to being a leader in the hybrid market and to top fuel efficiency across our lineup,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, global product development. “We are taking actions with our popular C-MAX Hybrid so that customers are even more satisfied with the vehicle’s on-road fuel efficiency performance.”

In its testing, Consumer Reports indicated that the C-Max was only good for 35/38/37 (city/highway/combined). In response to Consumer Reports' story, Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said in April, "Early C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid customers praise the vehicles and report a range of fuel economy figures, including some reports above 47 mpg. This reinforces the fact that driving styles, driving conditions and other factors can cause mileage to vary."
 
For their part, C-Max drivers over at Fuelly reported an average of 40.2 mpg combined -- still nearly three miles per gallon below Ford's new combined rating.


C-Max drivers on Fuelly.com showed just how optimistic the original ratings were
 
"This is an industrywide issue with hybrid vehicles," explained Nair. "We've learned along with EPA that the regulations create some anomalies for hybrid vehicles under the general label rule."
 
Ford isn't the only automaker that recently had to revise its inflated fuel economy ratings; Hyundai/Kia was taken to task when it overstated the fuel economy on a number of 2012 and 2013 models. It too instituted a cash repayment program for affected drivers.


Updated 8/15/2013 @ 8:39pm
The EPA has explained [PDF] the reason why the C-Max was previously rated for 47 mpg across the board, and why the new numbers are lower. It appears that Ford used a provision in the EPA testing to allow it to use the fuel economy numbers from the Fusion Hybrid on the C-Max because they used the same powertrain and weighed the same. However, the Fusion is a more aerodynamic vehicle, hence the huge discrepancy in the real world on the C-Max:
 
Ford based the 2013 Ford C-Max label on testing of the related Ford Fusion hybrid, which has the same engine, transmission and test weight as allowed under EPA regulations. For the vast majority of vehicles this approach would have yielded an appropriate label value for the car, but these new vehicles are more sensitive to small design differences than conventional vehicles because advanced highly efficient vehicles use so little fuel. 
 
In this case, EPA’s evaluation found that the C-Max’s aerodynamic characteristics resulted in a significant difference in fuel economy from the Fusion hybrid.

Sources: Automotive News, Ford



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RE: The problem
By Neener on 8/16/2013 7:09:48 AM , Rating: 2
I can. With my Honda Accord and my Prius too. In fact it's well known that most cars can get much closer to their EPA numbers than the C-MAX (check Fuelly)

The ACTUAL problem here is that Ford for some reason thought it was a good idea to use the Fusion Hybrid's numbers and pretend the C-MAX could do the same. I'm guessing they tested the C-MAX and found it couldn't match what the Prius did so they had to lie and market the hell out of the 47/47/47 number to get the most benefit before conceding some money later on.


RE: The problem
By Mint on 8/16/2013 10:58:22 AM , Rating: 2
That's exactly it. The EPA cycle is quite reasonable as an average case, and it creates a repeatable scientific test that consumers can use to compare cars. It's much better than the European Driving Cycle, where the same car gets 70 MPG there and 40 MPG here (I know the gallon is different, but not that much).

Ford never actually ran the test on the C-Max. They used a loophole to report false figures and went nuts with the marketing.


RE: The problem
By Alexvrb on 8/16/2013 10:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I hate it when people try to compare Euro numbers to US EPA numbers. They don't even usually factor in Imperial vs US gallon conversion, let alone inferior European cycle testing, and less stringent emissions requirements (especially on diesels).

Anyway, I was initially surprised Ford went ahead with these numbers after Hyundai just got busted for doing the same thing (although Hyundai did it across a number of Hyundai and Kia models). But thinking about it, all Hyundai got was a slap on the wrist. They probably made more money off increased sales for lying than they lost from being caught. I guess Ford figured why not try it! They spent a year marketing the hell out of this thing and boasting about its better-than-Prius mileage.


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