Ford’s MPG Claim Retraction – Toyota Truthful MPG Estimates?
Ford recently whacked the MPG estimates of its C-Max to placate regulators and angry customers. Is the fight for MPG supremacy pushing companies too far? Is Toyota next or are they truthful?When Hyundai and Kia “relabeled” their cars last November due to MPG over-estimates, it was a telling sign that the EPA might have had enough with exaggerated claims. Then, Honda got sued over MPG and the owner won. Whoa, it seemed like the MPG issue may be important. Now, Ford joins the fray of those getting their hands slapped by the EPA. However, according to the EPA, they did nothing “illegal.”
What did they do? They simply used the EPA often criticized evaluation program to their benefit. They based the C-Max’s fuel economy estimates on the powertrain of a similar car – the Fusion Hybrid. Seems legit, they both have the same engine and transmission. Except, the Fusion is a much more aerodynamic car. How much more? Try 4 mpg better or 8.5 percent.
Sadly, Ford’s transgression isn’t going to cost them very much, just $550 to U.S. buyers and $325 to U.S. lease customers. This isn’t a big chunk, however, it will seriously eat at the already tiny profit of these cars.
Interestingly, Toyota had the opportunity to do the very same thing Ford did. When Toyota launched the Prius v (a much larger model), they could have used the same EPA estimates for the smaller Prius. This is because the EPA test procedures say that “all car configurations with the same engine, transmission and weight class are grouped together,” according to an Autonews.com story. So, Toyota could have said the Prius v would get 50 mpg like the smaller Prius. They choose to give it the much more reasonable rating of 44 city/40 highway/42 combined. That 8 MPG difference is a big deal, yet it hasn’t stopped buyers from choosing that model.
As most everyone knows, MPG is a big deal to everybody – buyers, marketers, automakers and those not living under a rock. Having a vehicle gain 1-2 mpg more or be “best in class” is a big deal (see: Ram). Yet, consumers are starting to get savvy when it comes to these numbers. The reality is that “real-world fuel economy” matters a whole heck of a lot more than “EPA estimates.” Yet, fuel economy is such a finicky thing. There are so many variables that it is easily an educated guess ALL the time.
Why does this matter to truck guys? Simple. For years, the Tundra has lagged behind other manufactures in EPA estimated fuel economy. Although when comparing apples to apples (crew cab to crew cab, 4×4 to 4×4), the differences aren’t that much different, they are still there. Toyota reps have consistently said that they base their numbers more on “truth” than “fiction.” The statement is simple, “if we say it will get 17 MPG, it WILL get 17 MPG.” The Prius example above is a good example of this “truth.”
While, we are certainly not calling out other manufactures for bloated fuel economy numbers (towing is another matter), this news by Ford certainly raises questions. Is the F-150 accurate? What do they base their numbers on for light-duty trucks? Who else is bloating numbers?
What do you think? What was your reaction to this news?
Filed Under: Auto News