By on August 27, 2013

cmaxhybrid

Following Ford’s announcement that they will revise downward their advertised fuel economy ratings for the C-Max Hybrid, the United States Environmental Protection Agency said that the discrepancy between rated and real world fuel mileage was not the agency’s fault and appeared to be placing the blame on Ford for relying on the agency’s own rules, substituting data derived from the Fusion Hybrid because it shares a drivetrain with the hybrid C-Max. The EPA’s chief automotive regulator, Christopher Grundler, said that when they tested the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Sonata hybrids this summer, “It was fall quite reassuring.”

Grundler told Automotive News “The problem here is really not how the testing is done.” Grundler appeared to have been responding to Ford’s Raj Nair, global head of product development for the Dearborn automaker, who earlier said, “This is an industry wide issue with hybrid vehicles. We’ve learned along with EPA that the regulations create some anomalies for hybrid vehicles under the general label rule.”

Grundler did say that the Agency’s rule that allows very different vehicles that share the same drivetrain and approximate weight to share an EPA mileage rating will need to be changed to avoid the potential of misleading car buyers. He didn’t give a timetable but anticipated that it would take less than a year for the EPA to change the rule.

Toyota joined the EPA in pointing the finger at Ford. “Toyota agrees with EPA that this is a not a hybrid issue, but strictly an issue of how the Ford C-Max Hybrid fuel economy values were determined. We believe the current labeling methodology established since 2006 provides appropriate fuel economy label values for customers, when automakers apply these rules with good common sense and engineering judgment.”

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71 Comments on “EPA: Blame Ford, Not Us, For C-Max Hybrids Not Reaching Mileage Ratings...”


  • avatar
    sirwired

    Ford claiming that they had no idea that the C-Max would have worse mileage than the Fusion is utterly ridiculous. They almost certainly knew the near-exact fuel economy impact of the different shape before the BIW even rolled out of the model shop.

    The real lesson for the EPA is this… if they attempt to “throw automakers a bone” to make regulation compliance easier and cheaper, automakers will not hesitate in any way to completely subvert the intent of the exception. Ford pulling stunts like this only make regulations tougher in the future; now Ford turn around and whine later when they try and badge engineer a car and the EPA sends them through the wringer and makes them repeat every test.

    And don’t think the NHTSA isn’t paying attention to this little drama…

    Tricks like this cause real long-term harm to the entire industry in the form of more expensive and complex regulation.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Agreed. The idea that Ford didn’t have a supply of their own data from development testing that showed the C-Max used more fuel than the Fusion is absurd. They chose to shaft their buyers. Some people don’t mind being shafted. It is entertaining that the Fusion Hybrid’s fuel consumption is being taken as stated through this episode. I haven’t seen any independent tests that suggest it is within the normal margin of error for EPA hybrid figures, but the C-Max narrative is successfully diverting attention.

    • 0 avatar
      mklrivpwner

      “The real lesson for the EPA is this… if they attempt to “throw automakers a bone” to make regulation compliance easier and cheaper, automakers will not hesitate in any way to completely subvert the intent of the exception.”
      The REAL lesson for the EPA is “You’re regulations let ‘legit’ MPG claims that are bold-faced WRONG and need to be changed”.

      “Ford pulling stunts like this only make regulations tougher in the future”.
      Not a stunt if it’s allowed. And yes, this will likely eliminate the EXCEPTION to the rule.

      “now Ford (will) turn around and whine later when they try and badge engineer a car and the EPA sends them through the wringer and makes them repeat every test.”
      If the regulations don’t change, the EPA can’t force Ford to test cars that share a drivetrain.
      And if the regulations DO change, Ford can’t whine because those are the regulations.

      “Tricks like this cause real long-term harm to the entire industry in the form of more expensive and complex regulation.”
      ‘Tricks’ like this cause real long-term harm to the automakers that attempt to mislead the public and get caught. Not the entire industry. In fact, Ford may even get recast as a hero by getting the EPA to change its regulations (which are a constant source of headache for consumers and automakers) to better reflect real-world driving.
      But that part of history hasn’t been written, yet.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “In fact, Ford may even get recast as a hero by getting the EPA to change its regulations (which are a constant source of headache for consumers and automakers) to better reflect real-world driving.
        But that part of history hasn’t been written, yet.”

        Right now Ford is stuck with the reality of their actions, but some liars may well try to spin this once the sheep stop paying attention.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        The regulation that’s going to get changed isn’t going to be the basic test content (it hasn’t really come up in this incident), it’s just going to be the no-test exception.

        And yes, Ford knowingly took an exception to the rule (which was created to try and let automakers not do unneeded work) and twisted it well beyond its obvious intent. I feel very comfortable calling that a “stunt”.

        I could totally see Ford whining about those meanies at the EPA changing rules and forcing them to test a Lincoln that’s a kissing cousin to a Ford of some sort. Complaining about burdensome govt regulations is a favorite pastime of the auto industry.

        And the whole industry gets hurt because the EPA is now less likely to try and make automaker’s lives easier, since this is they payback the apparently get. (And “recasting Ford as a hero”? Seriously? That’s like praising a bank robber because he pointed out the need for bulletproof glass in a bank lobby by holding the place up.)

        Regulatory agencies have a pretty wide amount of discretion as to how they treat any one company (or industry), just like a cop that gets to decide to “let you off with a warning”; Ford just made a stupid short-term decision that will almost surely haunt them (and likely other automakers) for years to come.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    This fiasco has hurt the reputation of all Detroit automakers in the eyes of the skeptical east and west coast buyer. Historically, buyers on the coasts do not trust Detroit automakers because of poor reliability, durability, resale and difficulty getting warranty claims processed.

    Detroit had been running a campaign to convince the public they had changed their ways. Then, comes the 47/47 earthquake, right behind the embarrassing Ford performance Consumer Report’s brand reliability. Add the ecoboost problem where CR indicated normal motors are better performers. And, the 47/47 Fusion drama is still playing out with more reputational damage to come. Now, you are trying to spin your way out of the 47/47 CMax debacle which does even more damage to your reputation.

    All Detroit automakers will be painted with this Ford dirt for years to come. Good job Dearborn. You have reinforced east and west coast negative perceptions that Detroit vehicles can not be trusted.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Ironically, indications are that the Chevy Volt actually performs ‘better’ on gas in the real world than advertised. GM says the Volt gets around 32 mpg on gas, alone. But this estimate seems to be under the worst of conditions. Normally, Volts on gas seem to really be averaging at least 40 mpg. My guess would be that this is due to the fact that a Volt will usually be on the highway when on gas (when fuel mileage will be the best), and rarely use gas around town when they’re mostly within the 45 mile range of the battery.

      Quite a turnaround when GM appears to be the most ethical of the Big 3…

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Voltstats.net says the median CS MPG for the Volt is about 34.5 with the average at 35.5.

        I wish Voltstats had filter for model year, in case the newer ones do better.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        The driving habits of a typical Volt owner probably do not represent the average driving public. They’re more likely to do all kinds of hypermiler tricks, like slowing down on uphill grades, doing 5MPH under the limit, in the left lane of course. Show them a MPGe score of 75 on the sticker and they’ll take it as a personal challenge to beat it.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          That’s not my experience with Prius drivers. They’re predominantly younger women, and they drive them like BMW’s – I own the road, get out of the way, I’m saving gas so speed limits and traffic laws don’t apply to me. Maybe the gray-haired set would hypermile, but they’re driving Scion XBs to doctor appointments or Walmart.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      jimmyy – you always seem to pull stuff like this. First the east and west coasts are not the only parts of the USA. Secondly how does this taint GM and Chrysler who as far as I know not been caught cheating on their fuel figures.
      I didn`t see you write when Hyundai/Kia were caught cheating, sorry having procedural issues, that this tainted other Asian makes.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        For that matter, it doesn’t make me “distrust” Ford any more.

        I take EPA guidelines as vague suggestions, myself – and I don’t give a damn about the hybrid crossover market.

        (Frankly, I’d rather have the EPA out of the equation entirely, and let carmakers choose an independent analyst of their choice, and have the analysts compete for consumer confidence.

        And let people class-action sue the carmaker and analyst for punitive damages – just as they do now, but more brutal – if the estimates provided are significantly different from actual results.

        All the incentives align towards superior accuracy than EPA estimates, with no need for a giant bureaucracy and Congressional interference.

        Too little room for graft and favor-currying to ever happen, of course.)

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        mike, nothing being pulled here.

        Once you get far away from the Detroit area, people categorize brands. For example, “All European cars are very expensive to maintain”. Or “European cars handle very well”. Another “British car have electrical problems”. And, “Japanese cars don’t break”. One that I hear often “I will never buy an American car”.

        Perhaps in Detroit you differentiate different brands from the same country. On the coasts, people tend to group brands together, usually by nationality. Ford’s antics have reinforced the never buy an American car mindset.

        Finally, I do know the east coast and west coast car buyers mindset, so I always make sure others know my bias.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          I am amazed how you know what the entire East and West coasts think. I live in the East Coast – North Carolina and an looking to relocate to Pennsylvania and am finding some differences, even though it is East Coast too.

          I note you didn`t answer the question about consistency. Did Hyundai/Kia’s more more egregious issues with fuel economy (many more models over a longer period of time) make you question them and other Asian makers? It should do if you think the actions of Ford should automatically spill over onto GM and Chrysler.

          We will see what happens with sales, seems like the D3 are doing pretty good in 2013.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    “This is an industry wide issue with hybrid vehicles. We’ve learned along with EPA that the regulations create some anomalies for hybrid vehicles under the general label rule.”

    In other words, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Nice try, but shafting the consumers because of a loophole won’t win any loyal fans in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      In addition, that loophole probably appeared because of lobbyists paid by the car industry.

      the EPa probably is under immense pressure from DC to not be too tough on an industry that spends a lot of money on campaign donations….

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        Ha! I can imagine how that conversation went.

        EPA: (Rolls eyes) “OK FINE. Here you go. Good luck trying to use that one. … OMG you actually tried.”

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Really? Those are quite the allegations. What did you hear/read and from whom?

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          What’s quite an allegation? That lobbying affects policy?

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            That donations from car-makers specifically got that “loophole” (which is an odd term – it’s not like it’s trivial to make A Perfect Rule for measuring hybrid efficiency in terms of miles per gallon – when they’re not always burning gas!) put in.

            Rather than that rule being the result of just trying to do their statutory job, and didn’t turn out very well.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    The only solution is to test every model (even different trim levels if the weigth changes, like with AWD) in the EPA lab.
    The manufacturer will pay the EPA to test (it only should be a few thousand per car – peanuts in car development).

    All this self-performed testing is nonsnese. It’s like I do my college entrance test and just tell the College of my choice I passed instead of them testing me.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to send an EPA observer? Unless of course there is the spectre of the auto companies rigging their equipment?

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      The solution lies in Detroit automaker management. These firms need to discover honesty and integrity. You can regulate honesty and integrity.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The only solution is to just end the EPA fuel economy reporting requirement. It’s been shown over and over and over that your mileage will vary from their test cycle, yet cosumsers still insist on using the window sticker as the Word in fuel economy.

      A friend of mine has a C-MAX, so when I heard about this debacle, I asked him about his mileage. He says he regularly beats the EPA numbers. Perhaps he should pay Ford back from his unexpected savings for over-delivering.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        I LOL’d. Your friend should trade it in for a Fusion. Imagine the savings then!! :)

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        The solution to car companies weaseling around fuel economy standards by exploiting test requirement loopholes is to not have any fuel economy standards?

        Irrespective of how close the standard meets the usage patterns of single individuals, some sort of industry-wide standard is important so consumers can compare one car to another. If it wasn’t an EPA standard, it’d be an SAE one instead (like WHP.)

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The fuel economy “standards”, or for the sake of this argument, the reporting of the EPA numbers, provide the customer little or no value. Consumers don’t see the EPA numbers as a comparison tool, and even then it can be a weak one when comparing conventional drivetrains to hybrids. What conusmers see the EPA numbers as are Government backed guarantees, and they feel cheated when they don’t make the numbers. Your. Mileage. May. Vary.

          You are definitely correct that someone would step up to provide the consumer the information they desire. Independent testers already do this and in my opinion provide much more valuable information to the consumer. With the variety of different independent testers, there is a variety of different test conditions that consumers can identify as closest to their driving style and cycle to get the best idea of what they might expect.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I agree with danio. I also suggest people test drive vehicles before they buy them. If anyone that bought a C-Max thought they were going to get an easy 47 MPG by driving the way they already were, they are fools (unless they managed to achieve 47 MPG on a test drive). I knew I wasn’t going to get 47 MPG after my test drive returned 39 MPG. I still bought the car because it gets darn near double the real world gas mileage of an Escape 2.0T.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            BS. Testing the cars under controlled circumstances certainly does not tell me what fuel economy I’m going to get but it serves as a useful jumping-off point for determining which cars are likely to do better.

            Real-world MPG generally correlates usefully with EPA test MPG.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yes, the EPA numbers are a starting point for consumers, but a 10-15 mile drive, that simulates your driving habits, should be a better indicator of real world MPG.

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            Consumers don’t use the EPA numbers as a comparison tool? Really? The whole point of the EPA numbers is to be a comparison tool! (Emissions limits are based on the laughably out-of-date CAFE tests, not the EPA standard.)

            And you are saying that consumers that inexplicably feel cheated now wouldn’t feel cheated when the car didn’t meet the fuel economy numbers of the arbitrary industry-run standard(s)?

            What do you do when the hypothetical independent organization hasn’t tested the car you want to buy? Oh, that’s right, the car companies would have to run the tests. And you can be 100% sure that if there was a variety of standards, they’d never publish results from the ones that made their particular car look bad, making comparisons that much more difficult.

            The EPA standard, which all manufacturers are required to use, seems as good as any.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Consumers don’t use the EPA numbers as a comparison tool? Really? The whole point of the EPA numbers is to be a comparison tool! (Emissions limits are based on the laughably out-of-date CAFE tests, not the EPA standard.)”

            I agree that the EPA numbers were intended as a comparison tool, however the average consumer doesn’t see it that way. When lead-foot can’t get 21 mpg in his Hemi Ram, it’s “fawlse advertisin’” in his mind.

            “And you are saying that consumers that inexplicably feel cheated now wouldn’t feel cheated when the car didn’t meet the fuel economy numbers of the arbitrary industry-run standard(s)?”

            How consumers feel cheated now is easily explainable. Their driving habits don’t match the tests that generated the numbers so their fuel economy doesn’t match the window sticker. The average buyer doesn’t understand how that number was derived, who generated it or why it is on the sticker other than to tell them what fuel economy that car will get.

            What will they do when their results don’t match independent testers? Probably the same thing they do now; suck it up, or complain about it. At least independent testers can easily disclose a variety of test procedures to match the demands of their readership without having to pass legislation.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          And what’s wrong with an SAE standard? (Or, as in my post above, a variety of competing ones; imagine Consumer Reports doing its own!)

          “X is useful” does not imply “the Government must do X”…

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Nothing would be wrong with an hypothetical SAE standard per-se. Multiple standards would be even better, with different headings like “Andretti”, “Joe Walsh Ordinary Average Guy” and “Geriatric Grandma”.

            As long as the “Your Mileage May Vary” disclaimer is applied, the more the better.

            “X is useful” does not imply “the Government must do X”…

            200% agree.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      The problem was not the car companies performing their own tests; the problem was that Ford exploited a loophole meant to let them not do any work on the Mercury Sable when they already tested the Ford Taurus. They stretched this hole wide open and drove a C-Max through it.

  • avatar
    papaj1

    The C-Max gets incredible gas mileage for a 3,600 pound vehicle with 188 HP. We own one and average 42 MPG on the freeway, 48 in town. I have gotten as high as 60 MPG on short around-town trips.

    We are very happy with the car, it is unfortunate that Ford overplayed the 47/47/47 thing instead of focusing on the overall goodness of the car vs. the dowdy Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      That is the problem.

      It seems most C-Max owners really like their car. Not being able to hit 47 MPG seems to be the only complaint. If Ford would have underpromised and overdelivered, they wouldn’t have such a problem. I beat the adjusted EPA window sticker, and I drive 75+ MPH on the freeway on my 40 mile round trip commute everyday. Willful blidness is not a good defense legally, or in the court of public opinion.

      I hate that Ford has done this to a very good product. It is better than the related Escape and Focus.

  • avatar
    ash78

    As the Chief Marketing Officer for Kenworth Trucks, I’m proud to announce our 2014 line of power units based on the Chevy Tahoe hybrid. They’re good for an EPA estimated 20mpg, a nearly four-fold increase over the competition.

    This will revolutionize the trucking industry!

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Painting all of Ford with the same brush is not helping. From my long industrial experience here is how I see the Cmax fiasco played out.

    Power Train Engineer: The expected mileage is 47 city/ 42 highway based on the difference of Cd of the larger Cmax.

    Marketing Manager: I think you should check your calculations, it should be 47/47.

    Engineer: We alreday checked them six times and got the same answer.

    Marketing Manager: 42 highway won’t work in our advertising campaign. What can we do to get the number up.

    Engineer: Well, if it’s that important to you, I’ll turn my back and you can enter the “corrected coefficient” into the program.

    Mareting Manager: It’s a win win.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      You think a marketing manager has that much sway at Ford? None of this could have went down without the blessing of Raj Nair, or someone similar.

      • 0 avatar
        old5.0

        It has nothing to do with “sway”, and everything to do with one hand not knowing what the other is up to. Nothing implausible, or even unusual, about Felix’s theory.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Felix’s theory suggests that the engineering department let the marketing department input its numbers to fit an already hashed out ad campaign. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, I just doubt a marketing manager made that call.

          It would be more plausable that someone higher up knew about the loophole and went ahead with the 47/47/47 even though they saw the data saying otherwise. Whoever made the call assumed the C-Max would get close enough to 47 MPG that no one would care. Launching the vehicle in late fall didn’t do them any favors since the cold start is one of the issues.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ford published the number based on nothing.

    Ford used a loophole in publishing the number and embarassed itself, and that’s Ford’s own responsibility.

  • avatar
    afflo

    Is anyone here familiar with the specific issue with the EPA ratings (I understand that the specific C-max issue relates to the badgineering loophole, but I’m talking about EPA ratings in general).

    In 2008, they revised their testing standards to better match the real world:

    “•Testing at higher speeds (up to 80 mph). Previously, speeds were limited to 55 mph to match the speed limit of the 1970s.
    •More aggressive acceleration and deceleration (up to 8 mph per second rather than just 3.3 mph per second). The previous tests did not match today’s hectic traffic patterns.
    •Hot-weather testing and measuring vehicle fuel economy while using the vehicle’s air conditioner.
    •Testing in cold-weather temperatures while the vehicle’s heater and defroster are operating”

    (http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/epa-overhauls-fuel-economy-estimates-for-2008.html)

    8 MPH/sec is a 7.5 sec 0-60 run… Unless you are gunning it for giggles, you’re not doing 0-60 in less than 10 seconds at least, under normal driving conditions.

    I never had much trouble at least coming close to the pre’07 EPA ratings. My car is a 2011 and rated at 23/31… The 2007 Accord 4-cyl/manual has been revised to the same, but originally had a 26/34 rating, so it’s likely that mine would have the same rating under the old system.

    26 city/32 highway is pretty typical for my driving, with an average around 29, unless I’m being immature with the throttle or aggressively winding out the gears.

    Are people still having trouble meeting the EPA ratings on new cars? Is the EPA issue only in relation to forced-induction engines?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Much of it seems to be issues with forced induction engines. I don’t know how much driving style plays a factor. It really depends on the car and engine when it comes to me beating or meeting EPA numbers. I have the most seat time in Ford products, which seem to be a lightning rod around here. I’ve never had an issue beating EPA numbers with the 3.5TT with any platform. I have with the 1.6T and 2.0T in some applications. For example, I can beat EPA with the 1.6T on the Fusion, but not the Escape. With the 2.0T, that is reversed. I know that no trip is the same, etc, but I have 500+ miles driven on all these products.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      As TTAC has well-documented, I could never get anywhere near 32 MPG highway in my 2013 Equinox 2.4.

      To be fair, I assumed I’d get 24-26 MPG combined, going in, knowing the economy was crap, so the fact I average 25-27 MPG combined per fill-up in the summer, and 24-25 MPG in the winter (in Wisconsin, with heavy E10 usage in the fall and winter) doesn’t really bother me. I expected it.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    My 2008 Prius is rated something like 48-city/45-hwy. All kidding aside, I routinely average 55mpg on each tank. I drive about 60 miles per day on a combination of freeway, city, and hills.

    I think the NiMH HV battery only has a capacty of 1.3 kWh of which only 50% is usable due to State of Charge limitations. Think about that for a moment as we see OEM’s go for bigger and bigger battery capacities to both increase power output and FE.

    Just as in the Miata, the Prius is a momentum car. Learn to manage your momentum, and big FE awards are available.

    • 0 avatar
      papaj1

      Suspekt — Yes, easier to hit EPA estimates in the Prius. The car is much lighter and has 50 less horsepower than the C-Max so basic physics suggest the Toyota will be more fuel-efficent.

      There may also be some subtle human psychology issues at play, i.e. the average Prius driver is an eco-conscious type whose driving habits reflect his desire to max out his fuel economy — it makes him feel good to get the big MPG. The C-Max buyer wants good fuel economy too, but may also appreciate the extra power of the Ford. My wife takes off from stop lights in the C-Max like she’s coming out of pit row at Daytona.

      • 0 avatar
        old5.0

        My experience has been completely the opposite. The majority of Prius pilots I encounter drive like complete jackasses, as if the very act of purchasing a Prius conveys special privileges unsuitable for all us unwashed. Anecdotal, certainly, but then so is everything else here in the TTAC comments section.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I’ve seen them drive like jackasses (bad with signals, merging, driving slow) in ways compatible with ALSO trying to maximize fuel economy…

          It’s refreshing to see one driving a Prius like it was a performance car.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “It’s refreshing to see one driving a Prius like it was a performance car.”

            No.

            Me: “Jeez-O-Pete, can’t you drive *anything* gently?! This is a freakin’ Prius!”

            #1 Son: “You could probably do with a walk.”

        • 0 avatar
          tuffjuff

          @old5.0

          THIS.

          Prius drivers are always the ones doing 80 MPH in a 65, while everybody else is doing 70-72. It’s like they think just because they drive a Prius, they’ll get great gas mileage no matter their speed.

          That, or they’re just morons.

  • avatar
    papaj1

    Driving style has a much greater impact on hybrids and small-displacement turbos than “normal” cars.

    We have a 2012 Highlander 3.5 V6 and it gets 21 city/25 highway no matter how you drive it. My wife’s C-Max gets about 38 MPG when Mrs. Leadfoot rockets down the road and around 50 MPG when I am hypermiling it. Same story for her previous car, a MINI Cooper “S” turbo.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I used to think Ford was just being lazy, attaching the same mpg numbers for the C-Max as the Fusion just because they have the same powertrain, despite the fact they’re dramatically different vehicles.

    But then I looked at the specs – Yes, the C-Max is six inches taller than the Fusion, but only weighs eight pounds more, and while the Fusion sports a drag coefficient of .27, the C-Max’s is .30, not dramatically worse.

    So the two vehicles are closer in size and slipperiness than I thought, which is probably why Ford didn’t see the harm in giving the C-Max the same mpg ratings. Unfortunately, people actually drove the think and couldn’t get close to those ratings.

    The lesson isn’t “Don’t exaggerate the numbers”, it’s “Don’t get CAUGHT exaggerating the numbers.”

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      The total drag is the drag coefficient multiplied by the swept area. The published figures are not really accurate for this purpose, but (rounded) the Fusion is listed as 73 inches wide by 58 inches tall, or 4234 square inches in frontal area. The C-Max is listed as 72 inches wide by 64 inches high or 4608 square inches frontal area. When multiplied by the relative drag coefficients, by my calculations, the C-Max appears to have about 21% more drag than the Fusion. With that much difference in drag it would take a miracle for the two models to deliver the same highway fuel economy. I have a C-Max, and I never really expected the car to yield 47 MPG highway. My overall MPG for 4000 miles is 44.2 indicated, and that’s probably within 1-2 MPG actual.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        ” I have a C-Max, and I never really expected the car to yield 47 MPG highway. My overall MPG for 4000 miles is 44.2 indicated, and that’s probably within 1-2 MPG actual.”

        Which sounds pretty plausible, yeah.

        And makes me baffled by the kerfuffle here.

        Yeah, Ford seems ot have simple made up the idea of 47, but if you can actually get 44 +/- 2 in the real world, that sure seems to be close enough to not really bitch about.

        If my math is right, that’s a difference of 1/10 gallon per 100 miles; one gallon per thousand miles traveled, or – for a notional average of 14kmi/year – 14 gallons of fuel a year.

        At current prices, not quite $50/yr in increased fuel costs.

        Who even cares at that level? It’s not like the difference of 3mpg at 12 mpg vs 15…

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Oh, poo on all this talmudic dissection of EPA numbers.

    Given industry competitiveness, the only numbers I go by are how many cylinders:

    8 = Prohibitive
    6 = Extravagant
    4 = Preferred

    Any fuel cost variation in those categories for engine tech is within ± 3 Kindle books/month.

    Of course, I doubt many here drive like I do.

  • avatar
    marc

    But Fod still hasn’t explained why Fusions don’t routinely get 47-47-47. Presumbaly they were in-house tested also.

    So they took the stripper Fusion, no options, and a 105 lb driver. Hypermiled. And made sure that the test loop kept the lithium pack as charged as possible. And then extrapolated that result (which conveniently has the exact same number for city/highway/combined) to every vehicle made with that drivetrain.

    And expected us to buy it.

    Meanwhile, the new Corolla has about 6 different mpg ratings depending on things as subtle as which wheels are chosen.

    Ford is a bunch of liars here. We all knew it as soon as we saw the too-good-to-be-true 47/47/47. And they’re still lying. Which is unfortunate for the 2 very good vehicles using a very commendable drivetrain.

    The EPA needs to test some Fusions now too.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Focus has a number of different MPG ratings based on wheels, tires, grille shutters, etc.

      At least the Fusion and C-Max have the same wheels and tires. That must mean they get the same MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Testing is not done on the road it is done on a dyno per the FTP or federal test procedures. As far as the the Fusion goes you don’t get much choice if you check the Hybrid box as there is only 1 wheel and tire combo, you can’t get the spoiler so you are down to options that don’t have a real impact on MPG like back up sensors, BLIS, My Touch, Leather ect.

      Also not until the C-Max fiasco the Prius C, which I bet used the calculations method to determine it’s MPG based off of testing the regular Prius had the biggest difference between CR’s own testing and EPA estimates.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I would presume that the problem is that the EPA test cycle is too short to accurately calculate the mileage of the CMAX and Fusion.

    Ford’s system differs from Toyota. Ford’s setup relies more heavily on battery-only operating modes. Longer drives will deplete more battery power, which would cause the gas engine to operate more during the later part of a given drive than at the beginnning.

    The EPA city test starts with a cold engine and covers 11 miles. The highway test has a hot engine and covers 10.3 miles. The other supplementary tests are similarly short. Presumably, the tests are conducted with a fresh battery.

    I would bet that the results would be different if the test cycles were similar to what they are now, but covered longer distances, such as 50+ miles each. A longer test should remove some of the variation that comes from the battery’s varying states of charge.

    Toyota’s system makes more use of the gas engine. That makes the results more predictable, since the EPA test is measuring gasoline usage, not total energy usage. That’s not necessarily better or worse, but it does make for more accurate testing.

  • avatar
    papaj1

    Ford has now adjusted its C-Max EPA numbers to 45 city, 40 highway and is sending current owners a check for $550.

    The C-Max’ fuel economy is HIGHLY dependent on driving style. It is quite possible to reach or exceed the EPA numbers. In town the trick is to accelerate slowly & maximize regenerative braking. On the interstate the car will get about 43 MPG cruising at 69 MPH — any faster than that and mileage drops down into the high 30s.

    I routinely get mileage in the mid-50s on around-town drives, this is where the car really shines.


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