Ford is investigating the process it uses to certify emissions and fuel economy in the U.S., the automaker announced this week. The investigation comes after a handful of employees expressed concerns in September through Ford’s internal reporting channel.
Ford has also hired an outside firm to look into the specifications used in its testing. According to the EPA, road load is “the force imparted on a vehicle while driving at a constant speed over a smooth level surface from sources such as tire rolling resistance, driveline losses, and aerodynamic drag.” Road load is determined by engineering models and validated through methods such as physical track tests, or “coastdown” testing. Ford has asked the help of industry technical experts, and an independent lab will conduct more coastdown testing. It says it is considering changes to its road-load modeling process.
To be clear, Ford has not yet determined whether or not fuel-economy labels or emissions certifications have been affected. And the potential issue does not involve the use of defeat devices, Ford says. In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to using these devices as a way to skirt emissions controls during emissions testing. Since then, automaker testing procedures have come under increased scrutiny.
This isn’t the first time Ford has had to look into its own reported mpg numbers, however. Back in 2013, customer complaints about the Ford C-Max’s fuel economy not living up to estimates prompted Ford to retest the car and revise the numbers from 47/47/47 mpg city/highway/combined to 45/40/43 mpg. At the time, the automaker issued checks for $550 to compensate owners.
Ford has informed the EPA and California Air Resources Board of the possible problem. “As always, we strive to be transparent with our customers, employees, dealers, shareholders and other stakeholders,” Kim Pittel, Ford Motor Company group vice president of Sustainability, Environment, and Safety Engineering, said in a statement. “We understand how important it is to all audiences that we thoroughly yet swiftly complete this investigation.”