Some buyers of Ford’s gas/electric hybrids have expressed disappointment the their 2013 Ford C-Max, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids have not returned those cars’ EPA rated fuel economy. Some have even sued.
Ford heavily advertised it when the Fusion hybrid earned an EPA rating of 47 MPG, the same as the C-Max hybrid, but Consumer Reports said in their own real-world testing the hybrid Fusion delivered 39 MPG and the hybrid C-Max even less than that, 37 MPG. The Fusion based MKZ hybrid is rated at 45 MPG. Now Ford has announced that it’s going to offer owners a free software upgrade that the car company says should improve fuel economy in the real world. Ford claims that the upgrade has nothing to do with lawsuits but rather it’s part of normal product development. Ford will be upgrading 2014 models at the factory. The 77,000 owners of the of the 2013 models affected will be getting letters later this month, telling them to make appointments at their dealer. Ford says that upgrading the software will take half a day.
Some of the software changes are:
- The cars will automatically stay in electric-only mode to 85 MPH, up from 62 MPH currently
- Active grille shutters will now close in cold weather or when the A/C is running to warm or cool the interior quicker, this will allow electric mode to kick in sooner.
- Fan speed will be reduced. Less electric load means better fuel economy.
- The cars will now reach operating temperature in half the time, allowing the stop-start feature to work sooner. People in colder climates will appreciate this.
Ford also announced that it is adding another 250 salaried engineers for it’s electrification team, doubling its size as the company sees what it says it increasing demand for hybrids and plug in cars. It will also be investing $50 million in its product development center by the end of this year on equipment for what it says is improved battery testing.