The 2013 Ford C-Max hybrid now has a lower EPA fuel economy estimate, following months of consumer complaints.
The new fuel economy labels now state the fuel economy at 45 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. The old estimate was 47 mpg both for city and highway.
Ford will be offering a “goodwill” payment to current C-Max hybrid drivers—$550 for owners, $325 for people who are leasing.
The revision addresses a peculiarity—some call it a loophole—in EPA fuel economy testing, wherein manufacturers can issue a general label for multiple vehicles in the same weight class based on the highest selling vehicle that uses a certain powertrain. The 2013 Ford C-Max hybrid formally wore the same sticker as the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, even though the latter vehicle is more efficient.
“We and the EPA have learned a lot with the introduction of the hybrid and high efficiency vehicles,” says Ford product development vice president Raj Nair.
Automakers commonly take advantage of the general label rule for vehicles with multiple variants. For instance, the Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE wears the same label as a regular SS, despite having different tires and gearing. The only other company to issue a general label for multiple hybrids, though, is Toyota, which lists ratings for each variant of the Prius (hatchback, plug-in, C, and V) but does not publish different numbers for each wheel size. However, Ford is the only company to take advantage of this rule for a family of hybrids, according to the EPA. Toyota certifies the Prius hatchback and Prius V separately.
This announcement comes less than a month after Ford introduced a software update for the 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid to improve real world fuel economy. 2013 Ford C-Max hybrids that have not received that update would be knocked down to 42 mpg city, 40 mpg highway.
For 2014, the C-Max hybrid receives new hood seals, a more efficient transmission, more efficient engine oil, and new A-pillar moldings. Nair expects this will improve fuel economy but did not yet have a new estimate.
Ford is the latest automaker to walk back on fuel economy ratings. Last year Hyundai and Kia revised the numbers on several vehicles. As we have reported previously, the disparity between estimated and real-world numbers can differ for several reasons, including the use of a general label for multiple vehicle variants as well as
how automakers measure coast down and even the individual who “drives” the vehicle during the test.
Ford says it will continue to work with the EPA to improve test accuracy for high efficiency vehicles but is not adjusting the numbers for any other vehicles.