Ford has announced that it will voluntarily reduce the fuel economy rating on its 2013 C-MAX Hybrid from 47 to 43 mpg, and will send refund checks to about 32,000 customers – $550 for buyers, and $325 for lessees – a move that will cost the company some $10-16 million.
In the interests of customer satisfaction, Ford is responding to customer complaints and reports in Consumer Reports and other media that the hybrid hatchback’s real-world mileage is far lower than the official EPA rating.
The 2013 Fusion Hybrid’s official rating of 47 mpg will stay the same for now.
Ford has also announced several upgrades for the 2014 C-MAX that will boost fuel economy, including a more efficient drive ratio, better aerodynamics, tire air deflectors, lower-friction engine oil and software updates.
The EPA will take no action against Ford. “Ford did not do anything illegal,” the EPA’s Christopher Grundler told Automotive News. “This is not an enforcement matter.” he added.
Many have noted that the EPA’s fuel-economy labeling rules, some of which date from 1977, sometimes fail to reflect real-world mpg, especially for hybrids.
“This is an industry-wide issue with hybrid vehicles,” said Raj Nair, head of global product development for Ford. “We’ve learned along with EPA that the regulations create some anomalies for hybrid vehicles under the general label rule.”
Earlier this year, Hyundai and its Kia affiliate agreed to change the labels on several of their models, and compensated customers, after the EPA discovered flaws in some of the companies’ fuel economy tests.